CATW February 26, 2013 Italy & Nigeria

IROKO carries out training programs for social workers and members of NGOs, working with victims of trafficking or managing shelters. IROKO assists trafficking survivors with their own independent commercial activities and continues to provide housing facilities, economic assistance and psychological and medical support to victims of trafficking as well.

IROKO carries out educational programs in schools to increase awareness about the causes and effects of prostitution and trafficking. Nine seminars were organized and carried out in 2010, as well as three seminars for the public in local government areas of Northern Italy. Ten seminars were organized and carried out in 2011 in the participating schools, as well as seminars for the public in two local government areas of both Southern and Northern Italy.

In collaboration with the Nigerian NGO – Society for Youth Empowerment, CATW’s partner in Italy/Nigeria, IROKO initiated an educational support project in Nigeria carrying out awareness raising programs on violence against women targeting the general public in cities throughout northern Italy, particularly in the provinces of Turin, Genoa and Bergamo. This is highly significant as it brought the abolitionist analysis to the attention of the general public in Italy. This is continuing program in collaboration with different organizations in Italy, such as the JACA Books Editors, Bergamo (near Milan) Municipal and Provincial Councils, Amnesty International (Piedmont and Val d’Aoste Branch), Turin senior secondary schools and some local government bodies in the Turin Municipality.

In collaboration with the African Tourism Organization (ATO), IROKO developed an agreement to create the African Expert Group against Trafficking in Persons in 2010. Among the main objectives of the Expert Group is that of : “…working to combat child trafficking, sexual exploitation, sex tourism and travelling sex offenders including the promotion of the human rights of youths, children, girls and boys, with special attention to the rights of the girl child”. The Expert Group will involve several important personalities from the African continent and elsewhere.

In 2008, IROKO was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Prize for Human Rights by the Baptist Evangelical Christian Union of Italy, the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention USA, the Municipalities of Rome and Birmingham (Alabama) and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

IROKO’s Executive Director Dr. Esohe Aghatise was recognized and awarded for her work against trafficking in persons by the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) in 2008.

In March 2007 IROKO in cooperation the Nigerian government’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) organized the First International Conference on Prostitution and Human Trafficking in Benin City, Nigeria. The two-day conference featured speakers from a number of international agencies and national and state organizations. Upon the conclusion of the conference participants committed to counteract prostitution and trafficking in human beings as forms of violence against women and to ensure that all anti-trafficking measures be consistent with international human rights principles and a gender equality perspective. The participants agreed to implement activities to support and protect victims of prostitution and human trafficking and recognize the social, legal and economic conditions of women and girls in Nigeria much be alleviated to minimize their vulnerability to traffickers. Moreover, the participants decided to develop and implement various measure that discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation that lead to trafficking as specified in Article 9.5 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

The International Conference on Prostitution and Trafficking was held in Alba, Italy from January 22-24, 2004. The conference was the result of the dedicated efforts of Esohe Aghatise. She miraculously brought together mayors and representatives of Piedmont municipalities, provincial presidents, the labor unions, representatives of the Catholic Church, NGOs who work with trafficked and prostituted women in the region, members of the Italian Parliament, and representatives of various governmental Ministries to create a conference program that addressed the urgent issue of legalization of prostitution in Italy.

The conference addressed international, national and regional situations of sexual exploitation, models of assistance and victim protection policies, and legislative comparisons. The purposes of the conference were several: to influence the political approach of the Italian government as it considers proposals to reform the prostitution laws; to understand the violence and trauma to women who are subjected to sexual exploitation; to encourage governments and individuals to provide more resources to groups that aid victims of trafficking and prostitution; and to address the demand, rejecting the diffusion of myths about male sexuality and men’s supposed need for commercial sexual exploitation. Over 50 speakers contributed to the conference.