‘I am not for sale’ Nigerian women say in anti-trafficking campaign

“Find a job at home instead of risking a life of modern slavery in Britain” reads a poster from the UK government in collaboration with Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency to prevent women’s exploitation abroad.

The ‘Not for Sale’ campaign was rolled out last month with posters, TV and radio adverts, placed in schools, churches and marketplaces, with the aim of reducing human trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

According to the Department for International Development, the campaign focuses on ‘aspirational stories of women who have established successful careers in Nigeria after being tempted by Europe but instead chose to pursue their dreams.’

“Human trafficking is a scourge, a crime against the whole of humanity. It is time to join forces and work together to free its victims and to eradicate this crime that affects all of us, from individual families to the worldwide community,” the campaign states. 

According to the United Nations (UN), thousands of Nigerian women and girls are lured to Europe each year by the promise of work but end up trapped in debt bondage and forced into prostitution.

According to the Global Slavery index report, Nigeria ranks 32nd out of 167 countries surveyed. Nigeria has an estimated 1,386,000 people living in modern slavery.

Previous prevention campaigns in Nigeria have focused on the horror stories and dangers of trafficking, but according to Richard Sandall of Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), this has proved ineffective.

“As we were developing this proposal we began to hear stories that actually these negative stories were almost reinforcing the urge to go,” said Sandall, who works on anti-slavery activities in Nigeria.

While speaking to Reuters, Sandall said that there was a need to create a different narrative.

The ‘Not for Sale’ campaign is supported by UK aid and involves the National Crime Agency and the UK’s Joint Border Task Force as well as Nigerian law enforcement.