The Federal Republic of Nigeria, with a population of 158.2 million people, is Africa's most populous country and a great oil producing nation. [Source]. But corruption, bad governance and other social ills account for widespread poverty, desperation, crime and rights abuses in the west African country. In 2010, New York-based Human Rights Watch took Nigeria to task for institutionalized corruption in the police force that fuels human rights abuses. Rights violations in Nigeria include, human trafficking - resulting in modern-day slavery.
A video shared on Facebook puts human trafficking in Nigeria into perspective. The video, titled "The Nigerian Connection" shines the spot light on the plight of Nigerian girls trafficked to Italy and "trapped in a nightmare world of prostitution and exploitation".
The video report is difficult to watch. It was aired on "People and Power", a current affairs program on Al Jazeera English, and published on YouTube. The first part of the two-part series captures the dangerous and degrading situation faced by victims of trafficking in the country of destination - Italy.
The second part showcases the dire situation in Nigeria - the country of origin.
It's true that organized crime plays a direct role in human trafficking and modern-day enslavement of Nigerians, but poverty that results from bad governance also plays a role that cannot be overlooked.
Innocent girls are easily lured into modern-day slavery because opportunities to make a decent living in Nigeria are either limited or non-existent. Families are promised a "better life" and children are whisked away into slavery.
A "chosen few" individuals enjoy the wealth of the great oil-producing nation, to the detriment of the majority. This is true in Nigeria and it's also true in other African countries where endemic corruption, including embezzlement of public funds fuels unspeakable human rights abuses.
Italy is the destination of more than 10,000 prostitutes trafficked from Benin City, southern Nigeria. [Source]. In 2009, I wrote about African girls trafficked to Russia - where they were reportedly held as prostitutes and modern-day slaves. People are held in modern-day slavery in many parts of the world, including the U.S. In 2010, the plight of West African girls held as modern-day slaves in the US was brought to light.
There is a growing need for concerted efforts by governments, civil society groups and individuals against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.