Human Trafficking In Nigeria

When we talk of human trafficking, a lot of people in Nigeria conjure an image of people being transported to somewhere within or outside the country to be exploited physically and sexually. No, it is much more than that. Do you even know that your next door neighbor presently might be a victim of trafficking or a trafficker? Perhaps when you know more, you are able to determine who is a victim and how this terrible situation can be helped. 

Human trafficking is simply the act of infringing on a person’s rights by coercing them to do certain things for commercial gains which directly benefit the trafficker. Trafficking is one of the oldest vices in the world. It dates far back to the slave trade era, and now, a rebranded modern slavery. Trafficking no longer wears the old cloak of force and brutal coercion, rather, it is perpetuated with tactics and inducements which makes just anybody disadvantaged in the society fall prey. In most cases, people are not forced, they are induced by promise of love, better life, security and protection. There are also cases of people who are blackmailed into it. Victims are manipulated in a way that they become completely dependent on the oppressor, a term which is known as learned helplessness 

Trafficking Protocol, the first global, legally binding instrument on trafficking under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) defines trafficking as ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.’ It continues to say, “Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or other removal, manipulation or implantation of organs.”

This goes far to clarify that trafficking doesn’t necessitate movement of people from one place to another. It can occur within a nation, a locality, in a household or internationally. Common ways people are trafficked is selling off people for forced labour, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, organ transplant, people smuggling, forced street begging, people working in health-damaging sector such as mining, leather tanning, stone quarry work without incentives for their health. Common victims of trafficking are women and children and ethnic minorities in a larger environment.

According to the International Labour Organization as of 2012, more than 14 million people were exploited for labour, more than 4 million sexually exploited and above 2 million were exploited in the slavery brought about by modern day government, totaling well above 21 million victims seven years ago. The International Labour Organization in 2014 estimated an annual profit generated from forced labour alone to be $150 billion. Countries where human trafficking is worst include Belarus, Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan.

Trafficking in Nigeria has been a major national security threat as well. For an underdeveloped or developing country where poverty is rife and labour is cheap, thousands of people are bound to be victims of trafficking. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons of the U.S. State Department placed Nigeria on Tier 2 Watchlist in 2017. In 2003, National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, NAPTIP, headed then by Beatrice Jeddy-Agba reported about 150 cases of which just 25 convictions were secured. In 2017, a whooping 43% of girls in Nigeria are married off before the age of 18, 17% before they turn 15. Nigeria is the 11th highest nation in the world in child marriage.

Many people out of frustration would follow any cargo just to be out of this country. Data shows that Italy has the highest population of Nigerian victims of trafficking, having up to 10,000 Nigerian prostitutes. Roughly 15 million Nigerians live abroad in search for job, to seek education and better life and the majority of them become victims of trafficking.

Consequences of trafficking depend on the type of trafficking. Sexual trafficking for example exposes its victims to all forms of sexually transmitted diseases and damage of sexual organs. This can also culminate in Stockholm syndrome, where a victim becomes attached to their perpetrator. Victims also face social alienation and stigmatization. Victims of forced labour face serious health challenges. Many who are forced into drug trafficking also face criminal sanctions. Other consequences include deprivation of countries of human capital, promotion of social breakdown, subversion of government authority and so on. 

Human trafficking can go as far as breaking a nation down, making people hostile and breeding degenerates in the society. The efforts of the government is not enough as there are many people around you who merely struggle to put up appearances but a lot goes on in their lives. Having the power of this shared knowledge puts everyone of us in a better position to reach out to someone, and we will be saving many lives.

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