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Human Trafficking, Its Disadvantages and Solutions to Combat it

An article headlined, What is Human Trafficking which appeared in Human Rights Commission, said “The United Nations defines human trafficking as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat of the use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of in a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control of another person, for the purpose of exploitation” (Human Rights Commission, 2023). The website mentioned that “The 3 most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage. Forced labor, also known as involuntary servitude, is the biggest sector of trafficking in the world, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Debt bondage is another form of human trafficking in which an individual is forced to work in order to pay a debt. Sex trafficking disproportionately affects women and children and involves forced participation in commercial sex acts. Perceptions of human trafficking often involve women forced into prostitution. This is just one aspect of human trafficking. Survivors of trafficking also include men and children, and these survivors are exploited by any number of means. Victims may be forced into any of the following types of labor, among others:

  • Domestic servitude
  • Agricultural work
  • Manufacturing
  • Janitorial services
  • Hotel services
  • Construction
  • Health and elder care
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Prostitution and
  • Strip club dancing” (Human Rights Commission, 2023).

The website gives signs of a person being human trafficked as:

  • Showing signs that their
  • movement is controlled
  • Having false identity or travel documents
  • Not knowing their home or work address
  • Having no access to their earnings
  • Being unable to negotiate working conditions
  • Working excessively long hours over long periods
  • Having limited or no social interaction
  • Having limited contact with their families or with people outside their immediate environment and
  • Thinking that they are bonded by debt.

After defining the main discourse of the paper which is Human Trafficking as well as categorizing it and giving signs of it, the author would like to put the statistics of Nigerians (she is a Nigerian) being trafficked. Some of the statistics gotten from an article titled Nigeria:Human Trafficking FactSheet posted on PathFinder Justice Initiative by the author mentioned that “1. Nigeria remains a source, transit, and destination country when it comes to human trafficking. Per the 2018 Global Slavery Index (2018) Report, Nigeria ranked 32/167 of the countries within the highest number of slaves-1,386,000 and its National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reports that the highest number of trafficked persons in Nigeria, which maintains its posture as a Tier 2 country on the U.S. Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (2022), are women who are 18+ (NAPTIP, 2021 Report). According to NAPTIP statistics from 2019-2022, 61% of human trafficking in Nigeria happens internally, while 39% is generated from cross-border trafficking. It is the third most crime in Nigeria after drug trafficking and economic fraud (UNESCO, 2006). The general factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking in Nigeria include extreme poverty (33%-70 million people) live in extreme poverty, lack of economic opportunities, corruption, conflict/insecurity, climate change/resulting migration and western consumerism 2. The total number of human trafficking victims outside of Nigeria is largely unknown. However, it is undisputed that principally due to Nigeria’s population, Nigeria is routinely listed as one of the countries with the largest number of trafficking victims overseas (particularly in Europe), with victims identified in 34 countries in four regions in 2018. The recent scourge of unsafe migration has highlighted Nigeria’s challenges in this area, with one former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Mr. Martin Uhomobihi) contending in June 2017 that in 2016 alone. 602,000 Nigerians endeavored to migrate to Europe via the Sahara Desert. According to Mr. Uhomobihi, 27,000 of these migrants died en route. Also pretty alarming is his claim that of those who perished on the journey, 68% were Nigerian university graduates. Most estimates, however, place the total number of Nigerians arriving in Europe in 2016 at about 40,000 and about 18,000 in 2017 (men, women and children). In 2016, Nigerians accounted for about 21% of the total 181,000 migrants braving the Mediterranean to arrive into Italy. In 2017, the number decreased to 15.1% of total migrants arriving in Italy (191,000) in light of the numerous efforts made by Italy and the European Union to stem the flow of migrants from Libya. UNHCR statistics indicate that in 2018, the number of Nigerian arrivals by sea and land into Europe continued to decline (1,250 arrived in Italy-5% of total arrivals). Since then, Nigerian arrivals have continued to decline. According to the UNHCR statistics, Nigerians were not amongst the top 10 nationalities of arrivals by land or sea into Greece, Spain or Italy (the three primary countries for arrivals) in 2019 or in 2020. 3. Historically, the overwhelming majority of trafficking victims and migrants made the treacherous journey from Edo State (particularly Benin) and Delta States to Kano from where they are smuggled into Niger or Algeria before traversing 500 miles over the Sahara Desert into Libya. (It is noteworthy that even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and its supposed lockdown in March-April 2020, migration flows continued from Nigeria, with Nigerian men (primarily crossing from Nigeria into Niger). In 2021, most trafficking victims rescued by NAPTIP (2021 Report) were from Benue State (12.3%). Prior to 2020, however, Edo State had been a prime source for trafficking victims. In fact, CNN reported that Edo State was the most trafficked through destination in Africa. It should be noted that according to NAPTIP’s latest figures in its 2021 Data Analysis Report, (Edo State is no longer featured in the five states for trafficking victims). Organ trafficking has been on the rise of Libya. NAPTIP, in its latest 2021 Data Analysis Report, confirms that the largest number of victims rescued outside of Nigeria were rescued from Mali (was UAE in 2020), Burkina Faso and UAE and are from Benue State, followed by Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Sokoto and Kano. 2020 and 2021 were the first, in recent years, the most victims rescued by NAPTIP were not from Edo State” (PathFinder Justice Initiative, 2023). According to some other statistical facts derived from an article titled 14 Facts About Human Trafficking in Nigeria written by Joseph Osuigwe Chidiebere published to Devatop stated that “a. 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 labor in street vending, domestic servitude, mining and begging b. An average Nigerian thinks that human trafficking is only when girls and women are forcefully moved from Nigeria to Europe, like Italy. They also think that human trafficking is a foreign issue c. An important characteristic of the Nigerian sex trafficking system is the use by the traffickers of threats of voodoo curses to control Nigerian victims and force them into situations of prostitution. During the ritual, in which body parts, such as fingernails, blood and/or pubic hairs are recollected, the woman is made to swear an oath to repay her debt, never report her situation to the police or reveal the identities of her traffickers. Fear of breaking the pact is so strong that it creates a powerful bond over the victims and impedes them to seek help. According to the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, about 90 per cent of girls that are been trafficked to Europe are taken to shrines to take ‘oaths of secrecy’ and d. Nigerian victims are lured to donate their organs, give up their organs, or sell their organs at a very cheap price; thereafter the traffickers resell the organs to desperate buyers who pay huge amounts of money” (Chidiebere, 2017).

This section of the article would be used to advise, implore and suggest to Nigerians who want to migrate or JAPA (a slang for illegal migration) to 1. Thoroughly investigate the agency/agent in charge of their travel process 2. Inform their trusted family members and friends about their travel plans from the outset 3. Investigate the person they are going to meet if the process is illegal well and 4. Look into the country’s human trafficking statistics. This is because not all that glitters is gold as the English people say.

AlJannah A. Sanni writes from United States of America.

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