OCTOBER 31, 2020- BENIN CITY, EDO STATE. In line with our commitment to eradicating sex slavery and creating space for women who have been denied access to sustainable economic empowerment (post trauma), we have been providing ongoing support to survivors of sex trafficking throughout Nigeria during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the pandemic has generated hardship for most Nigerians, it is evident that the implications of the pandemic, i.e., lockdowns, restriction of movement, etc. has had an even greater impact on those who live in abject poverty. Unfortunately, many survivors of sex trafficking and returnees who had recently repatriated from Libya and Europe, fell into the group of marginalized persons that were hardest hit by the implications of the global pandemic. Many of the survivors in Pathfinders family also struggled (and continue to struggle) mentally and financially, as they are mostly daily wage earners who are one day away from abject poverty.
As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and restriction in movement, many of our survivors (with whom we had partnered) were forced to close their small businesses and/or any other means of daily survival. This led to a drastic loss in income, hunger, health issues that could not be addressed, an inability to pay rent and subsequently, homelessness, hopelessness and depression. Many were tempted to return to local prostitution in order to feed their children, a scenario we have discouraged and fought hard, via various interventions, to prevent.
To this end, on October 30, 2020, Pathfinders, with support from Action Aid Nigeria and Global Affairs Canada, supported 50 women survivors of sex trafficking with COVID-19 relief items which included, rice, beans, garri, sachets of tomato paste, packets of indomie noodles, salt, seasoning cubes, a face mask, hand sanitizer and hand wash. Survivors also received transportation fare to and from the COVID-19 Relief Drive.
It is our hope that despite these difficult times, at least some of the stress being endured by our survivors will be alleviated by Pathfinders’ ongoing support. We are grateful to our partners at Action Aid Nigeria which made the COVID-19 Relief Drive possible via its Women’s Voice and Leadership Project (with support from Global Affairs Canada).