Human trafficking

A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together. — Margaret Atwood

Back in 2009 while in Uganda, I found myself involved in a scam that fell neatly in the stereotype that Nigeria is the NO.1 source of scammers. I am not sure about that but I was conned by a South African-Nigerian. His name was Nick Oppenheimer, a supposed COO of a family business in South Africa.

He promised to offer me a job. He told me that it would be easier to start with owning shares in the company and because I was poor, he offered to buy shares for me, which he “did” through this address:  Barnard Jacobs & Mellet Holdings Ltd,  24 Fricker Rd, Illovo, Johannesburg  2196 .

Apparently, huge amounts were paid for stock in my name and I started receiving trade alerts of this nature Mr. MOSES MWOREKO KUSHABA,  Petrosa shares of 4400 units have been credited to your A/C registered with us.  Barn Mell Ltd.

I was then asked to send some money to my  account through an Inter-Bank transfer in Lagos, Nigeria, after which, my employment letter would be sent to me by Mr. John Cray.

I was so excited and borrowed $100 to send to Lagos, and subsequently I received the employment letter. Then I was asked to send more money.

Nicky, my supposed boss to be, was on a tour of the company’s business in Nigeria. He told me he would pass through Uganda to take me to South Africa.

While in Nigeria, I talked to “him” on phone and he started telling me to send more money. At this point, I began to investigate the company.

I sent an inquiry to the actual organization about my accounts status, and quickly learned this was a scam. During that same time, there were many employment agencies that were recruiting people for jobs in UAE, and in talking to my friends, we remembered this. This ended my search for employment in those companies.

Human trafficking is real. Desperate situations put people in compromised situations leading to suffering, like Masud’s story. Many end up as domestic slaves or indentured sex workers.

Masud was 12. His parents were persuaded, tricked, to let him be taken from his home in Bangladesh to a new life in England. He was sold, “Trafficked.”

He left his home with an unknown man who travelled with him to London then onto the southwest where he was abandoned in an Indian restaurant. To survive he worked in the restaurant, lived in one of its small store rooms, sleeping next to jars of chutney and bags of onions. Sometimes when there was no work he was forced to sleep on the streets. He was not able to go to school and his life was controlled by the restaurant owners.

When he was 28, with the help of STOP THE TRAFFIK, he contacted the local police and immigration team who helped him to obtain a passport and identity documents, resulting in him being able to return to Bangladesh.

Stories like Masud’s are happening all the time, making people trafficking the world’s fastest growing illegal trade.

Let’s take a moment and look at the statistics from UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

1.4 million – 56% – are in Asia and the Pacific

250,000 – 10% – are in Latin America and the Caribbean

230,000 – 9.2% – are in the Middle East and North Africa

130,000 – 5.2% – are in sub-Saharan countries. An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking.

270,000 – 10.8% – are in industrialised countries

200,000 – 8%- are in countries in transition

Sexual Trafficking – The Facts – VIDEO

These helpless people need a voice. There are many operators just like “Nicky” out there who need to be exposed and dealt with to avoid more stories like Masud’s.

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 provides a detailed account on this issue.

What do you think of when you hear the term “human trafficking?” Do you know someone who is in your country as a result of it? Tell us your ideas for solving this most horrid aspect the the global culture of sexual violence?


Image by Steve Weaver, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
Image Description; An exhibition set up in Trafalgar square from September 22nd to the 30th 2007 by the Helen Bamber organization to highlight and lobby the government to the shocking trade of sex trafficking and enslavement happening on our doorsteps. To find out more and to sign a petition go here.