At the ongoing 49th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Africa Region Conference, member states were strongly urged to attend to issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery urgently. The conference is held in Gaborone from August 13th to 23rd. The aim of the gathering was for commonwealth state parliamentarians to discuss the role of African parliaments in fostering national and regional security.
While giving her opening remarks, Deputy Minority Whip of Nigeria’s National Assembly Fatima Bello said parliamentary action to curb the scourge of human trafficking is needed now more than ever in Africa. “The entire Members of Parliament of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Africa Region must as a matter of urgency agree to take immediate steps to quickly end all forms of human trafficking,” said a concerned Bello. She added that this should be irrespective of race, religion, creed, tribe and social standing. Bello could not over emphasize the need for the said parliaments to as matter of exigency stamp their authority at regional level. “They must not fail to speak out against this monstrous monumental evil that is ravaging and destroying humankind across the world, and they should speak with a united audible voice,” she said.
Bello pleaded with delegates to fix a deadline when all legislative parliaments of the commonwealth will pass a law to eradicate all forms of labour, relatively or otherwise in consonant to human trafficking and set a committee to monitor and evaluate the process. She prescribed imprisonment for life against perpetrators of the inhuman act. “Member nations should also share information on human trafficking and create a hotline across the commonwealth. A joint task force to tackle this menace is so long overdue,” she pointed out. Adding, “It is imperative to also create awareness through all available channels to inform and educate Africans on the methods of trafficking and modern day slavery used by syndicates to lure their victims.”
The latest International Organization on Human Trafficking Center report estimates that 36 million individuals are trapped in sex slavery, forced or bonded labor and other forms of servitude. It further states that the industry is worth $150 billion annually. According to the same report forced labour exploitation alone amounts to $43.2 billion which constitutes 28 per cent of the labour market. Domestic servitude stands at $8 billion which is 5.3 per cent of the labour market, while sexual exploitation amounts to $99 billion which is 66% of the same market. The labour market includes child soldiers. The report continues to detail that 40 per cent of the world’s women are being exploited in the human trafficking labour market while 60 per cent are men. It states that the leading causes of human trafficking in commonwealth countries are poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment and poor governance among others. “Prostitution, child labour and morden day slavery are the major forms of human trafficking found in commonwealth countries,” reads the report.