Subject: News/NIGERIA: THE NEWS (LAGOS) - GRACE AGAINST PROSTITUTION.
From: Melanie Orhant (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Apr 17 2000 - 09:28:24 EDT
Does anybody know about this organization & the work that they do?
3-13-00 NIGERIA: THE NEWS (LAGOS) - GRACE AGAINST PROSTITUTION.
Lagos - Grace Osakue, the country Coordinator of the International
Reproductive Rights Research Action Group (IRRRAG), Nigeria, is co-author
of Italios and Sponsors, a research publication about trafficking in women.
She spoke with VICTOR OFURE OSEHOBO Q: What is IRRRAG? A: IRRRAG is
International Reproductive Rights Research Action Group. It is a
seven-nation research and action group interested in the promotion of the
sexual and reproductive rights of women. In Nigeria, we are working with 36
women groups in utilising the results of our research findings to improve
their position. The groups are located in Edo, Cross River and Kaduna
Q: How do the women fit into your groups? A: We did not constitute these
groups, but they are essentially women who are in rural, semi-rural and
urban condition. They are very poor women whose voices are unlikely to be
heard in public arena nationally and internationally.
Q: What do you mean by sexual and reproductive rights?
A: This is the ability to enjoy the highest state of well-being in issues
of sexuality and reproduction and access to the information, the means and
the services to enjoy this well-being. Basically, we are talking about the
right to determine with whom, where and how to reproduce and the right to
be free from all forms of diseases relative to sexual and reproductive
Q: Has IRRRAG been able to determine what sexual and reproductive rights
mean to the Nigerian woman?
A: Yes, based on our research, we now know that the Nigerian woman wants to
be able to have a say in all issues that concern her body. For example,
when to have sex, when to get pregnant, whether or not to be married, to
whom and when.
Between 1993 and 1995 when we carried out a research to determine what
sexual and reproductive rights meant for women, we found also that one
desire ran through: The desire of Nigerian women to have a voice in all the
issues that have to do with them, and to recognise their rights to
well-being as a result.
Q: Does IRRRAG have plans to find out men's reaction to these views of your
A: At present, I can tell you that we are into a research to determine the
male reactions or understanding of what sexual and reproductive rights mean
to women. This became relevant when we realised that in trying to implement
our findings on women's entitlement to well-being, one stumbling block was
male attitude. Male partners do not accept the position of women. So, what
we are trying to do is to build their positions into our programmes for the
Q: How does IRRRAG get the public and policy-makers to know about its
studies and findings?
A: Since 1995, we have been publishing our findings in our bid to bring
about policy changes and attitudinal transformation in the general populace
as well as meet the needs that our women groups have identified as their
needs in the course of our field work.
Q: Is the book, Italios And Sponsors a product of one of your studies?
A: Yes, it is. The outcome of the field work we carried out here with the
support and involvement of Associates for Change and the Global Alliance
Against Trafficking in Women.
Trafficking In Women (TIW) became an issue with us since 1996 when it
became apparent that there was an outgoing trafficking of women/girls from
Nigeria for purposes of prostitution and slave labour outside Nigeria.
During our field work on the development, we learnt that in a lot of the
communities, especially in the South-West of Nigeria, women have views on
issues such as who should determine when the daughter should get married.
Yet, in other communities, we found that parents have always and are still
deciding who their daughter gets married to.
Q: Are we talking of urban or rural communities?
A: In the rural communities, the women are of the view that the days when
parents decided whom their daughters should marry are over, since most of
them nowadays live far away from home. So, they are free to bring home
their husbands. That most of the girls have travelled out of the country
was vital to this trend. Since 1996, having decided that there was more to
it than met the eyes, we went into the field.
Q: For the South-West and especially in Edo State, what factors do you
think can be advanced for the lure to Europe for prostitution?
A: Poverty. Families may have decided that the only way they can stay alive
and live in affluence is for their daughters, wives or mothers to be sent
out as prostitutes in foreign land. Many members of the families involved
claim to have been delivered from poverty as a result.
As you already know, poverty in Nigeria is the result of massive
mismanagement of our resources and the inhuman economic policies of the
Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha military junta.
So, these two factors can be adduced for the low level of education
particularly of women/girls, who have been denied training to earn
meaningful living. These people, as a result, enjoy being trafficked to use
what they have to get what they want. This is not to say that it is only
the uneducated that are involved. The high unemployment rate has also
caused the trafficking of graduates from higher institutions.
Q: Do you see light at the end of the tunnel to fight this shameful trend?
A: Yes. There is some light, but it will all depend on the will of those in
power. Government should be ready to enforce existing legislation while the
penal code which already criminalised prostitution must be reviewed to make
penalties more severe.
Traffickers as well as sponsors or agents need to be brought to book to
serve as deterrent to others.
Q: What can be done to prevent girls being trafficked?
A: I think the education of the girl-child should be made free and
compulsory up to university level or subsidized in the alternative with
bursaries. If this is done, fewer girls would love to be trafficked.
Then, jobs should be created and there should be a conscious effort to
enlighten the populace through mass awareness and conscientisation
We should re-orient our minds to begin the appreciation of our moral
We should emphasise well-being rather than wealth, comfort instead of
The rights of women should be promoted so that they do not see themselves
as one of the many properties of the man. Also, there must be a conscious
effort to sensitise men to the sexual and reproductive rights of women and
promote the dignity of the human person.
Publication date: March 20, 2000
The News (Lagos). All Rights Reserved.
MIDDLE EAST INTELLIGENCE WIRE
NEWS, THE (LAGOS) 13/03/2000
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