Slave trade was abolished in the late 18th century and early 19th (1807) century in the British Empire. Although, slave trade was abolished in the British Empire and later throughout the world, slavery itself still exists in a new form. This new type of slavery adopts some of the manner of operation like the slave trade of old. The characteristic manner of operation include: the use of force or kidnapping, deceit, illegal adoption, clandestine activities, abduction etc. This new form of slavery is human trafficking.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking describes the voluntary, forceful or deceitful abduction or the taking away of children, women or some helpless people into another environment or country for cheap labour, sometimes as prostitutes, house boys or for other menial jobs. Women and children are the most vulnerable; they are taken away with or without the consent of their relations. Oftentimes, parents or relatives of victims accept money or gifts from the abductors before releasing their wards. Most victims of human traffickers are often abused.
Causes of Human Trafficking
- Poverty: Poverty and the attraction to higher standard of living often make people to fall into the trap of human traffickers. The poor parents take money and gifts from traffickers pretending to lend a helping hand to their children. The parents in turn hand over their children to them. The traffickers usually promise to provide education or better job for the children and the unsuspecting parent will agree hoping that this in turn will bring about a higher standard of living for them.
- Illiteracy: The traffickers usually approach illiterate parents who can be deceived easily because they do not know the implication of releasing their children to be taken away. They carelessly release their wards in as much as money was entering their pockets.
- Marginalization of Women: Women have limited economic resources not until very recently when women are now found in the banking, insurance and even in politics, holding political appointment. In Nigeria in the past, particularly in northern Nigeria, women were not allowed to vote.
- Material Benefit: People who are not contented with their position and what they have in life, who desire for material benefits are easy targets of the traffickers. They are easily lured into the business.
- Peer Group Influence: People who have friends and age groups abroad who are successful are easily lured into trafficking. When their friends come home, they show their affluence by spending and dressing extravagantly not knowing that they sell their bodies to make money abroad; particularly women.
- Weak Law Enforcement: When the law enforcement agents are not effective, human trafficking would flourish. For instance, an effective border control could limit the rate of human trafficking while a porous border indirectly encourages trafficking.
- White Collar Job: Majority of the urban residents are working in one office or the other. These busy lifestyles at work or business will only make parents seek for a house-help to look after the children; a fact that encourages child trafficking. So many children have been taken away to another country through this process.
- Lack of Employment Opportunities: Provision of employment opportunities will surely reduce trafficking in human being. An old adage says “an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.” With a good job; parents cannot be easily deceived by offering them money.
Consequences of Human Trafficking
- The victims of human trafficking travel over long distances before getting to their destinations; even many die on the way.
- There is an increase in violence and crime rate. So many are raped by the traffickers.
- There is increasing prevalence of STDS including HIV and AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.
Trafficking victims are exposed to different psychological problems such as:
They suffer social alienation in the host and home countries.
- Social exclusion and intolerance can make it difficult for the victims to re-integrate into local communities.
- The children taken away have lost the opportunity of going to school. They remain illiterates.
- These illegal activities bring shame to the victims and to their families.
- The government offers little or no assistance or social services to the trafficked victims upon their return. Because of this, the victims are also pushed into drug trafficking that leads many of them to face criminal sanctions.
- Losing of rights: Human trafficking disregards many human rights such as the right to life, freedom of movement, human dignity, security, the freedom from torture, the right to education, proper employment. The victims are denied all these rights.
- Unwanted pregnancy: So many victims were impregnated by their masters particularly house girls and so many children were born without having fathers thereby creating problem for the future.
Government and Individual efforts to Stop Human Trafficking
Government and individual have made efforts to stop human trafficking. The actions that can be taken to stop human trafficking vary from government to government in Nigeria.
- Legislations have been made to make human trafficking illegal; an illegal business to embark on or venture into.
- Cooperation between different nations and the law enforcement agencies and cooperation with the Non-Governmental Organizations have gone a long to curb and fight human trafficking.
- On legislations, the national assembly has passed a bill on human trafficking into law that prescribes death sentence to whoever is caught.
- Establishment of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP): The government has been able to equip the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to function effectively. In 2008, NAPTIP made arrest of some Nigerians for human trafficking in Europe. On 5th December, 2008 in Akwa-Ibom state Governor Godswill Akpabio signed the Child Rights bill into law.
- The government has provided jobs through National Directorate of employment for the unemployed youths in the society.
- WOTCLEF: This is the pet programme of the wife of the former Vice President. Mrs. Titi Atiku. The programme was meant to stop human trafficking. She particularly went to Edo State to talk to the parents and the young girls to stop going to Italy and other nations for prostitution. Edo state has the highest percentage sex trafficking. So many young Nigerian girls were repatriated from Italy; most of them were from Edo State while others were indigenes of other states.
- In July 2003, the traffic in persons prohibition and administration act was passed in Nigeria.
- UNICEF: United Nation International Children Emergency Fund has helped to raise public awareness in Nigeria through the involvement of media and by addressing attitude behaviours. It has adopted a preventive approach to human trafficking. It intends to build a protective environment to prevent the abuse and exploitation of children throughout the country.
- Government has been able to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking by raising awareness among police, social welfare workers and immigration officers on the evils of engaging in human trafficking. Several films have been made available and several posters have been placed for the people to see.
- The United Nations International children Fund has established Youth Resource Centre to prevent young people from being trafficked. Two model youth centre were established in Edo and Delta State in 2004/2005 etc.