On 18/1/2014, around two hundred people gathered in Manchester, England, for a fundraising benefit to aid the cause of teenage Asylum Seeker, Olayinka, who faces the risk of Female Genital Mutilation, if forcibly returned to her native Nigeria.
At the tender age of 17, Olayinka now resides in the British northern town of Rochdale, where along with her mother and two brothers, have refused to return to Nigeria because of the threat posed to Olayinka’s physical well-being.
Also present at the event, was Mary Adenugba, whose Asylum application is also pending and was brought to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, nine years ago, by Human Traffickers.
Upon her arrival Mary was enslaved and forced to work as a prostitute in London, and was later relocated by Traffickers to Manchester, where she was again forced into prostitution.
The combined experience’s of Mary’s circumstances, has left her with lasting mental health problems but with assistance, was ultimately able to break the shackles of the UK’s hidden slave industry.
The fundraising benefit for Olayinka, was organised by a local NHS nurse and obtained the support of local residents and community groups. The event also saw live performances from the Manchester Community Choir and a recital from published poet Mark Abraham.
A “Complex” Matter
Speaking with a security analyst in London, she warned that cases involving FGM and Human Trafficking were “complex”, with the victims often facing “the legal, social and political backlash”.
“Claims of ‘Cultural Norms’, often associated with Female Genital Mutilation are regularly used to avoid a direct confrontation with those complicit in its practice."
"FGM is illegal in Great Britain, although women are still vulnerable to it but as of yet, no one has actually been prosecuted for this crime”.
“To contemplate the forced repatriation of a young woman from the UK to Nigeria, knowing the threat of FGM is credible and highly possible, does also send a clear message to the “cutter”, that the UK paradoxically welcomes Female Genital Mutilation”.
“Most people do not seriously think that Human Trafficking occurs in the UK, that’s why it rarely gets media attention or a substantial political debate."
"The gains for those involved with the actual Trafficking are astronomical, but the breadth of the industry can often range from the sex trade, local fast food outlets, to financially assisting terrorist networks.”
“British people often meet those who have been Human Trafficked into the UK but most people assume it’s “just another foreigner”.
"Traffickers also encourage their victims to say they are visiting friends, family, or working short term for a relation, so it makes their sudden appearance more normal and their disappearance less suspicious”.