Tuesday 18th October is Anti-Slavery Day in the UK; on this day, AFRUCA champions the African men, women and children who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, labour exploitation and more.
This year’s Anti-Slavery Day comes against a background of increasing numbers of Nigerian women and girls being identified as part of ongoing migration across the Mediterranean to Italy, many having been trafficked. 6,334 Nigerian women and girls were identified between January and August 31st this year, far more than the 5,633 recognised in the entirety of 2015, according to IOM. African children and young people continue to be identified in the UK – Nigeria is consistently in the top 4 nationalities recognised and a quarter of potential victims are children. These numbers – 257 Nigerians in 2015 alone – are likely only the tip of the iceberg, with many potential victims remaining hidden, without protection or support. Many Nigerian victims have also been forced to undergo traditional juju oath rituals, binding them to their trafficker and making disclosures of their experiences intensely difficult.
There remains much to be done to reach the lofty goal to ‘Take immediate and effective measures to…end modern slavery and human trafficking’ (Sustainable Development Goal 8.7). Despite ongoing efforts by the UK government and other partners, trafficking remains a major issue from countries such as Nigeria. Criminal gangs continue to target vulnerable people with promises of success in Europe, before forcing them into exploitation and servitude, while ‘cultural’ practices such as the use of young domestic servants persist and maintain structures of domestic servitude abroad. This ongoing scourge is facilitated by issues such as the economic downturn in Nigeria, ongoing corruption, gaps in the education system and the persistent and powerful myth of the ‘better life’ abroad. More needs to be done to tackle the corruption and social factors which enable this criminality, with improved governance and a zero-tolerance stance prioritised. Safe migration strategies should also be supported.
In the UK, we need to continue to prioritise the provision of good quality, appropriate and effective support to those who have been trafficked. Resources need to be invested in this, as with a (rightful) focus on identifying victims comes a greater demand for quality services. Victims, and support for them, should be at the heart of decision-making, with clear pathways to accessing appropriate housing, immigration stability and advocacy support during and after government-funded support ends. AFRUCA encourages the expedition of the roll-out of specialised advocates for children who have been trafficked, to ensure that durable solutions and child-centred approaches are prioritised.
AFRUCA will continue to fight for a world free of exploitation, where children and young people are empowered, nurtured and safe.
Note to Editors: AFRUCA is the primary charity working to protect and promote the rights of African children in the UK, and provides a place for African children and young people who have been trafficked to access vital services in a culturally appropriate and aware environment. Our work has seen us work with almost 400 victims over the past 8 years. We provide tailored individual support, with a focus on practical, emotional and advocacy needs. Our peer and group support group activities build confidence and develop relationships between young people affected by trafficking, in a safe and supportive environment. Our specialised psychotherapist works to support their mental health needs and recovery. AFRUCA is actively engaged in a number of key policy and advocacy platforms, with NGOs, government and statutory agencies.
For further information, please see our website at www.afruca.org, email email@example.com or call our office on 020 7704 2261