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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Sex trafficking should be a capital offense

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Dear editor,

I read with serious concern your news article of 31st July 2023 captioned ‘Two Nigerian Women Arrested for Alleged Sex Trafficking’, in which a senior lawyer was quoted as telling the Guardians Intelligence that sex trafficking is not a capital offense in The Gambia and as such the alleged perpetrators of such crimes are bailable.

Personally, I believe having several of these investigative journalism platforms opening the lid on this issue is cardinal. Sadly, we have not built interest in making the crime of sex trafficking a capital offense. Sex trafficking has a serious psychological effect on survivors and it is heart-breaking to then see the offenders walking in the streets just because they were bailed. Since it is a multi-million-dollar crime industry, traffickers do not have problems in meeting their bail bonds no matter how expensive it may be. Therefore, the only deterrent would be—beyond the fact that it is grave offence—is to categorise the crime as capital offence, so that traffickers will be remanded and proper investigations conducted with severe penalties attached. 

The Gambia should not relent in prosecuting cases of sex and human trafficking, which is on the rise mainly due to no stiff penalties or rigorous investigations to cover a wide network of criminals preying on the innocent.

The law enforcement should equally resist all temptations of bribery and inducement as these are usually wealthy criminals ready to offer any amount to escape justice and continue their nefarious activities.

Considering the fact many sex trafficking victims are girls and minors whose academic careers could be halted, more should be done to highlight it and categorise it as a capital offense. The Guardians Intelligence Investigative platform reported a trafficking of young Nigerian girls, some of whom are as young as 15 years, who were made to believe that they are here to do jobs other than sex work.

The health and social life of the victims are also at risk because in most of cases, the victims of such crimes are more depressed due to the lack of concerns from the law enforcement officers and it can even lead to death.

The executive director of UNODC, Antonio Costa said that “many governments are still in denial. There’s even neglect when it comes to either reporting on or prosecuting cases of human trafficking.”

I strongly believe cases of sex and human trafficking are rising because people easily get away with the crime. Unless we fight it head-on, our women and young girls will remain at the mercy of heartless individuals profiting on their bodies. We need to do better.

Amira

Wellingara

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