BENIN CITY, NIGERIA- APRIL/MAY 2020. Many of our survivors who were just emerging from sexual slavery and looking forward to starting their lives are suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory lockdown that has resulted in many parts of Nigeria. Some are now homeless, others have had to close the small businesses we helped them build, many (along with their children) are facing hunger and desperation. Some are sick, without access to medical treatment. This experience has been triggering for their past trauma and many are in immediate need of mental health support.
The most obvious temptation for survivors, under these circumstances, is to return to prostitution- something we are endeavouring to avoid at all costs. To this end, Pathfinders is providing emergency relief packages, medical care and mental health support to survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in Nigeria.
Throughout April and May 2020, we have been able to provide support for about 100 survivors, some of whom have received financial support as well as food items (2 servings of rice, 1 serving of beans, 1 serving of garri, 10 packs of indomie, 1 cooking oil, 10 sachets of tomato paste), face masks, transport subsidy and a crash course on staying safe during the pandemic. All of our current survivors have received/are receiving medical care and counseling support, as well as strategic planning on how they can move their businesses online, provide mobile services, diversify their businesses and increase profit margins. This support has been made possible via our Pathway to Freedom Project which is funded by the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the United Nations’ Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. We are grateful for their support.