Real Life Stories: People Trafficking in Nigeria (SOTHAWACA)

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Ronke Ojeikere, Founder of Society to Heighten Awareness of Women and Children Abuse (SOTHAWACA).
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The latest in our series of partner interviews is with Ronke Ojeikere. Ronke’s story was compiled by Liluye staff writer Sylvia Nalubega. Ronke is the founder of SOTHAWACA, an organization dedicated to advancing women’s and children’s rights, empowerment, and well-being.

How did you first get involved in being part of this work? In other words, what motivated you, or still drives you, to work on the issue of trafficking? Can you share a personal story?

My name is Ronke Ojeikere. I am the initiator of a non-governmental, non-profit organization with the United Nations ECOSOC Special Consultative Status since 2016. The name of my organization is the Society to Heighten Awareness of Women and Children Abuse (SOTHAWACA). We’ve been in existence for 26 years and are duly registered in Nigeria. As an organization, we prioritize advocating for improved education, healthcare, gender equality, and violence prevention through a structured approach and consistent efforts.

My work in prevention of human trafficking started off with advancing women and children’s rights. I am presently working in a community where I first saw young children between 14-16 years old being used for sexual exploitation. Many of them were lured from their villages from a Southeastern community in Nigeria under the guise of telling their parents that they were coming to give them a good life and education. But they ended up in brothels, making money for the brothel owner. I tried to get deeply into it, but I didn’t get to meet the owner of the brothel because he was being protected. The next time I came into the community, I didn’t have access to the girls anymore. I was made to understand that those girls who actually talked to me had been moved away from that brothel into another one. I kept on going back to this same community and decided to set up my office there.

We also found out that child trafficking isn’t just outside this country. Within rural-urban migration, we found that our children were being exploited. They were being used for forced labor, child marriages, and more. I realized that creating awareness is one thing that I really am doing well and everybody seems to be catching up with it.

What are the specific mission and goals of your organization?

Our organization is dedicated to advancing women’s and children’s rights, empowerment, and well-being. We achieve this through various initiatives: empowering women and girls via education, skills training, and economic opportunities; advocating for gender equality across societal realms; offering support to survivors of gender-based violence; promoting reproductive health and rights, including access to contraception and safe abortion; ensuring quality healthcare for women and children; raising awareness about pertinent issues like discrimination and poverty; and championing policies that safeguard their rights. Ultimately, our aim is to foster a more equitable, inclusive society where women and children flourish and realize their fullest potential. We also provide counseling services and psychosocial support to women, men, and children at the Edo State Gender Based Violence Centre (Vivian Centre) in Benin City, where we volunteer.

ronke speaking at an events
Ronke held a three-day discovery agency training for girls to find their voices, discover their power, and live their dreams at the Holy Trinity Grammar School in the Local Government Area of Owan West in March, 2024.

In the targeted communities where we work, our efforts have left a significant mark on the lives of numerous individuals. Through our dedicated training workshops, we’ve reached out to and positively influenced the lives of more than 200 school children and 150 women within three Local Government Areas, or LGAs. These workshops have served as a platform for empowerment and education, equipping participants with valuable skills and knowledge. Furthermore, our commitment to combating violence and human trafficking has led us to enlist the support of 50 ambassadors. These individuals, passionate and dedicated, stand as advocates for change within their communities, working tirelessly to raise awareness and prevent such atrocities from occurring. And, our impact extends beyond mere numbers. It encompasses the transformation of communities, the empowerment of individuals, and the fostering of a safer, more resilient society. Through collaboration, education, and advocacy, we strive to create lasting change and ensure a brighter future for all those we serve.

What is the severity of trafficking in your area and what are the long-term implications of sex trafficking, especially on women and girls?

In our targeted rural areas, child trafficking, especially sex trafficking, is distressingly prevalent. The lasting consequences for women and girls are profound. Apart from the immediate physical and psychological harm, survivors have to confront persistent hurdles like social stigma, recurrent victimization, and inadequate access to support systems. Many battle enduring mental health concerns, substance misuse, and obstacles to education and job opportunities. Moreover, the cycle of exploitation frequently persists, fostering ongoing cycles of poverty and susceptibility. At SOTHAWACA, we are dedicated to combating trafficking, championing survivors, and enacting holistic measures to tackle its underlying factors.

A significant number of young girls arriving here have been groomed and unknowingly trafficked abroad. Approximately 7 out of 10 girls in this scenario become victims of sexual exploitation. In these instances, parents believe their children are attending school, unaware that they have disappeared. The susceptibility to engage in sex work is notably high for girls because they are coerced into it. Many of them lack a true understanding of the extent of the commitments they enter into during those periods. We are currently working on a very sad case where a very young girl was trafficked out of the country under the guise of furthering her education. Upon arrival at her destination, the reverse was the case as she is now being sexually molested and exploited. We are currently doing a family tracing in order to reunite her with her family.

Ronke Speaking at an events
Ronke conducted an “Empowering the Future: Stakeholders Discourse on the Girl Child” training among the proprietor and teachers of Kellex Schools in the Utagban community of Benin City at SOTHAWACA in October, 2023.

What kind of change do you want to see as a result of your work among the survivors of trafficking, or those who are most vulnerable to it?

We aim to increase parental awareness of human and sex trafficking to enhance the protection of their children, particularly girls. We strive for greater awareness and empowerment among women and children in the community to address human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Additionally, we advocate for the involvement of more boys and men in our prevention campaigns to safeguard girls and women.

What kind of support do you need for your work?

To expand our outreach in preventing human trafficking, we require financial assistance to reach additional communities and schools with informative sessions. Additionally, we are in need of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials containing prevention strategies for human trafficking, gender equality, and gender-based violence that we can distribute within our communities.

Where to send funding for your work?

To fund the work of SOTHAWACA, please email: or, or visit:

To find out more about SOTHAWACA:


Ronke, Prsident and Founder of SOTHAWACA  was interviewed by Liluye staff writer, Sylvia Nalubega, who also writes on her blog, Sanyu Centre for Arts and Rights. Sylvia’s personal message to everyone is, “We live beyond ourselves by sharing our story to hopefully impact a person.”