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What Are The Implications Of Human Trafficking In Nigeria?

JEROME MICHAEL EBRUPHIYO Friday, November 26, 2021 Basis

 

Introduction

This article will provide information on "what are the implications of human trafficking in Nigeria?" and also provide answers to questions regarding human trafficking in Nigeria.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the physical movement of people across and within borders through deceptive means, force or coercion. The people who commit human trafficking offences are motivated by the continuing exploitation of their victims once they reach their destination country.

Brief History About Human Trafficking in Nigeria

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons including forced labour and forced prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country's borders – women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, and boys for forced labour in street vending, domestic servitude, mining, and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and the Gambia, for the same purposes. Children from West African states like Benin, Togo, and Ghana – where Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rules allow for easy entry – are also forced to work in Nigeria, and some are subjected to hazardous jobs in Nigeria's granite mines. Nigerian women and girls are taken to Europe, especially to Italy and Russia, and to the Middle East and North Africa, for forced prostitution. U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in "Tier 2 Watchlist" in 2017. Nigeria is a source as well as a transit point for human trafficking. Due to the large population of Nigeria, the country is routinely tagged as one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. However, by 2016 out of the 181,000 migrants who arrived Italy through the Mediterranean, Nigerians accounted for 21%. Human trafficking is a way to exploit women and children for cheap labour and prostitution as an opportunity to help themselves out of poverty. Nigerian human trafficking occurs within the Nigerian borders, in neighbouring countries, and in many European countries because they are able to ship women and children within a network for human trafficking to expand the market within this industry. Nigerian gangs have sent thousands of women into the sex markets within Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. About 21,000 Nigerian women and girls have been trafficked to Italy since 2015 with 80% being likely victims of human trafficking. According to a report by the Vie d’Uscita (Exit Routes) project, 64% of girls trafficked to Italy are from Nigeria while the 34% are from Albania, Balkans and Romania. Human trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy began to occur in the 1980s because of the demand for low-skilled labour in agriculture and services. Nigeria has a history of economic and financial issues causing significant unemployment and poverty as well as a tradition of giving out young people from poor homes to wealthy family as domestic help. This has exacerbated human trafficking. It is estimated that roughly 15 million Nigerians live abroad to seek an education, for jobs, and better lives than their ones in Nigeria. Harsh economic conditions that have increased unemployment and underemployment, a large population, political instability, insecurity and porous borders aid internal and external migration in Nigeria. A popular reason to migrate for Nigerians is to help bring their families out of extreme poverty by getting employment abroad and sending home money. Nigeria is not rated among the ten poorest nations in Africa with a per capita GNP of about 433.449 US dollars as at Dec 2019. Human trafficking in Nigeria has been combated through programs set up by local organisation such as NAPTIP's Public Enlightenment Unit that partners with Devatop Centre for Africa Development, and the Italian government that partners with the Nigerian government to lesson the significant rates of human trafficking that occurs in Italy. Italy not only has officers shutting down brothels in major cities, but the government has set up programs with social workers to integrate the women into society once they gain their individual independence. Many Nigerians who go to Italy are illiterate with no experience of urban life, so finding a place to belong within Italian cities can be difficult for Nigerians without any guidance. The enormity of human trafficking of Nigerian girls and women for sexual exploitation to Italy has inspired a film, Oloture which depicts the harsh conditions these victims pass through and endure to get to Italy. The film which was rated among the 10 top films on Netflix just days after it was released in 2019 is also viewed as a step towards educating girls and women to understand the stark reality behind promises of 'a job in Europe'. Majority of women and girls trafficked to Italy are from Edo State in Southern Nigeria. Trafficked victims caught usually refuse to divulge names of the agents who trafficked them and the people they were sold to due to the oaths they were made to swear before fetish native doctors using their hairs, nails and sometimes blood in Edo State. The Oba of Benin who is recognised as the spiritual head in Benin Kingdom, Edo State has recently invoked curses on those who aid and abet trafficking of Edo girls and women to Italy and other places. He also broke all the alleged agreements entered into by the trafficked victims with the traffickers and their agents. This action by the Oba of Benin is expected to decrease the volume of human trafficking from Edo State as well as embolden victims to name traffickers and their agents.

What has Nigerian Government done About Human Trafficking?

The 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act, amended in 2005, and eventually re-enacted in 2015 by President Goodluck Jonathan to increase penalties for trafficking offenders, and for greater effectiveness prohibits all forms of human trafficking. The law's prescribed penalties of five years' imprisonment and/or a $670 fine for labour trafficking, 10 years' imprisonment for trafficking of children for forced begging or hawking, and 10 years to life imprisonment for sex trafficking are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Nigeria's 2003 Child Rights Act also criminalises child trafficking, though only 23 of the country's 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, have enacted it. According to the Nigerian constitution, laws pertaining to children's rights fall under state purview; therefore, the Child Rights Act must be adopted by individual state legislatures to be fully implemented. NAPTIP reported 149 investigations, 26 prosecutions, and 25 convictions of trafficking offences during the reporting period under the 2003 Trafficking in Persons Act. Sentences ranged from two months to 10 years, with an average sentence of 2.66 years' imprisonment; only two convicted offenders were offered the option of paying a fine instead of serving prison time. Together with international partners, the government provided specialised training to officials on how to recognise, investigate, and prosecute instances of trafficking. Police and immigration officials, including those who work at border posts and airports, at times allegedly accepted bribes to overlook trafficking crimes. NAPTIP dismissed two staff members from public service who were found to have diverted victims' funds; they were made to refund the money back. In 2014 the Executive Director of National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), Beatrice Jedy-Agba was given in an award by John Kerry in Washington DC to recognise the work that she has been leading against trafficking in Nigeria. In March 2017, Dame Julie Okah-Donli was appointed as the Director-General of NAPTIP, and she has made giant strides in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.

List of Some Anti-Human Trafficking Organisations in Nigeria

  • Devatop Centre for Africa Development (DCAD)
  • This is a nonprofit organisation with focus on combating human trafficking, gender-based violence, child abuse; and providing educational supports to vulnerable children. It is a youth-led organisation that has been at the forefront of combating human trafficking and other related matters. The organisation has been engaging young people in building a nation without human trafficking.
  • Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF)
  • It is a nonprofit organisation that has taken strong stand against women trafficking and child labour. WOTCLEF advocated for the establishment of NAPTIP.
  • Pathfinders Justice Initiative, Inc.
  • It is a leading anti-trafficking NGO which works to prevent modern slavery (sex trafficking) and liberate enslaved women and girls through the direct eradication of root causes. It was founded by R. Evon Benson-Idahosa, Esq., a leading expert and thought leader on sex trafficking who is also a consultant to national and international governments and organisations.
  • Women's Consortium of Nigeria
  • Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children
  • Viable Knowledge Masters (VKM)
  • It is a research and consulting firm that has worked extensively on baby factories and the trafficking in infants and young women taking place in these places. VKM's works on baby factories are published in reputable peer-reviewed journals.
  • Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking (ETAHT)
Set up on 15 August 2017, by the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki as a response to the high rate of Human Trafficking and irregular migration in the State. ETAHT was primarily set up to totally eradicate the scourge of human trafficking in the State. it is currently chaired by Prof. Yinka Omorogbe. the Attorney General of the State and comm. of Justice.

What are the Causes of Human Trafficking in Nigeria?

Among the root causes of human trafficking in Nigeria, we mention poverty, lack of education, globalization, corruption and gender inequality. Globalization allows traffickers to set up complex routes and systems within and across borders.

Is human trafficking common in Nigeria?

Due to the large population of Nigeria, the country is routinely tagged as one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. However, by 2016 out of the 181,000 migrants who arrived Italy through the Mediterranean, Nigerians accounted for 21%.

What are the Types of Human Trafficking?

  • Forced Labor
  • Bonded Labor
  • Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers
  • Involuntary Domestic Servitude
  • Forced Child Labor
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Child Commercial Sex Trade

What happens if you are human trafficked?

Victims might be jailed or deported, but once they're released or back in their home countries, they usually end up in the hands of their traffickers once again.

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