Meet The Farm Member Working To Combat Human Trafficking: A Conversation With R. Evon Idahosa of PathFinders Justice Initiative

A wonderful consequence of running The Farm SoHo is the diversity of people we welcome to our coworking space. We’ve opened our doors to tech startups, creative entrepreneurs. Recently, through the All Good Work organization that puts unused spaces to use for non-profits, we met R. Evon Idahosa, a human rights lawyer and the founder and executive director of PathFinders Justice Initiative, a company that aims to combat human trafficking.

Evon's mission

Her mission, via Pathfinders, is to eradicate sex trafficking and rape in the developing world. She does this through empowerment, community transformation, and judicial reform.

Her organization provides direct services for female survivors in her native country of Nigeria and in Cameroon. It also sounds the alarm on the implications of these atrocities.

Evon had this to say about human trafficking, the third most lucrative illegal business in the world:

"It is an evil act that inevitably affects us all. A lot of people, particularly in the West, have a tendency to believe that it is an international phenomenon. However, the reality is that we maintain a shared humanity which dictates that the enslavement of one person. If one is not free, none of us are."

“The sooner people are awakened to the injustices of sex trafficking and the abuse on the bodies of women, the sooner we can solve the issue,” Evon added.

But awakening is only the beginning.

Evon set up PathFinders three years ago. Coincidentally, it was around the same time 276 female students were kidnapped by the world’s deadliest terror group, Boko Haram.

This group from Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. The kidnapping garnered global outrage and sparked the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign. The movement still continues, with 113 women still held in Boko Haram captivity. Evon is an organizer for the movement.

“Most of my work has focused on trying to combat human trafficking and keeping the story alive.

It has centred around using creative efforts to consistently place pressure on the Nigerian Government and the international community,” Evon said.  

It is this collective effort by thousands of concerned global citizens that has resulted in the recent negotiated release of 103 Chibok Girls.

The kidnapping happened four months before Evon left her job at a prestigious law firm to set up PathFinders.

At PathFinder, they utilize novel methods to combat human trafficking and provide rehabilitation for the survivors. One of them is ‘Anchor,’ the branch of Pathfinders that provides free vocational and business skills training and funding. Moreover, it provides scholarships to survivors.

It recently launched its first safe house in Benin City, Nigeria which serves as a safe space for survivors. Pathfinders also offers free legal representation and services to survivors. This initiative is called ‘The Voice.’

‘TruthTellers’ is the community transformation arm of Pathfinders which uses various campaigns. These campaigns include educating local communities on the injustices in gender-based violence. Moreover, it also aims to successfully combat human trafficking around the world.

What has Evon done so far to try and combat human trafficking?

Pathfinders CEO stands up to combat human trafficking

According to Evon, her work is consistently evolving, as the perpetrators of sex trafficking generate new methods, including the use of technology, to further their exploitation. "The secret is to stay one step ahead of [them], if possible," she contends.  “We must be even more committed to eradication than traffickers are to exploitation. And that requires thinking outside the box in a way that prioritizes the lived experiences of survivors."

And so from West Africa to the United States to Europe, Evon travels.  She relentlessly writes and speaks on the subject because it is a human issue, not just a women’s issue.  She believes that collectively, we must find a way to address the push and pull factors which render women vulnerable.

This is precisely why Pathfinders recently partnered with the government of Edo State, Evon’s home state in Nigeria.

“It is unacceptable that over 90% of the women trafficked into Europe from Nigeria are from my home state. This is due to the toxic combination of poverty and economic limitations."

While the foregoing are the most glaring push factors, there are other social factors that must be addressed. According to Evon, “even more damaging is the concept of patriarchy and the ingrained belief that women are not as valuable as men and as such, can be deemed commodities to be used and discarded. Simply empowering women is not enough."

Making a Change

Pathfinders recently organized a two-day workshop, in collaboration with the Edo State government, that brought together all relevant Nigerian stakeholders in human trafficking to review the methods and approaches that are working - and to eliminate antiquated ones which are not.

Evon said: “These stakeholders, from countries including Nigeria, Italy and the United Kingdom, were able to collectively put our heads together to come up with viable and practical solutions to addressing unemployment, corruption and poverty.  Our hope is that we will be able to see firm and sustainable commitment from these governments because NGOs on their own are unable to tackle the issue without both national and international government assistance.”

Because Pathfinders demands accountability from both government and non-government agencies, they will be there to ensure that the pledges that were made are kept.

The importance of coworking

Evon has used The Farm’s coworking space for the last few months to run Pathfinders when she’s in New York. She is forming working relationships and finding the collaborative nature of coworking a great help to her work.

“By co-working, I am fortunate to meet new people every day. This exposes me to varying perspectives about my work that I would ordinarily not be privy to,” she says. The reality is that “almost everyone at The Farm is endeavoring to birth or put up the walls to their dreams  and it’s so refreshing to meet people who are just as inspired by their work as I am.”  

“It’s been an amazing experience so far,” she says.

For more information about Evon and Pathfinders, please visit www.pathfindersji.org or send an email to [email protected].

evon of pathfinders

Checkout Out What Else We Do!

Whether you’re looking for an NYC event venue for person or business occasions or you need a fresh perspective for your workday, a business address or virtual mail box, or if it’s time to level up your business and you’re looking to make some serious marketing moves, we have the answer for you!

Book A Tour

This location is fully booked.

Please select a different location.