Human trafficking also known as “Trafficking in Persons” means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve consent of a person, for the purpose of exploitation. Men, women, and children are trafficked for many purposes – sexual exploitation, begging, underpaid and exploited forced labor in the agricultural, manufacturing and construction industries, domestic service and organ harvesting.
Looking into the cause of trafficking in persons in the south eastern region of Nigeria, the people who are at most risk of being trafficked being the vulnerable most often than not, women and girls. This vulnerability is caused by a long range of factors. Some of which are:
CAUSES AND/OR FACTORS THAT ENHANCE HUMAN TRAFFICKING
1. Lack of education/Vocational Training and Skills:
Lack of education especially for people in the rural parts of eastern Nigeria can lead to decreased opportunities for work at a living wage, and it can also lead to a decreased knowledge in rights. Both outcomes can cause people to be at a greater vulnerability for human trafficking. In prevention of trafficking, education and training in vocational skills can also empower children to make changes in their community as they grow older that will prevent situations and vulnerabilities of which traffickers take advantage
2. Demand for cheap labour/demand for sex:
Basic economics tell us that for a market to form, supply and demand need to exist. The demands for cheap labor and for commercialized sex lead to opportunities for traffickers to exploit people. This though is not unique to the south eastern part of Nigeria. Traffickers can make a large profit by producing goods and services through cheap or free labor and selling the products or services at a higher price. Commercialized sex is a lucrative market that allows traffickers and pimps to become the only profiteer from their victims through an endless cycle of buyers and high prices.
3. Widespread Gender Inequality/Patriarchy:
In south eastern Nigeria, the Igbos to be precise, importance has always been attached to a male child more than a female or indeed any full grown woman. The obsession for a male child in every Igbo family, and in Africa generally stood a restriction to the efforts and further contributions of women. This cultural preference for the male child and restrictions against the female had hindered the development of women and denied them self-actualization. Widespread gender discrimination that denies women their rights, as well as attitudes that tolerate violence against women and consider women and girls inferior result in objectification and support the existence of trafficking that delivers women and girls into appalling living and working conditions. Destitute families are vulnerable to persuasion to hire out or sell their children because they lack adequate resources to provide for their family. Girls are most vulnerable to this form of commercial exploitation as the boys are set to be raised by the families and sometimes from returns received from the girl child trafficked.
4. Communal Conflicts (Siting the Ezza/Ezza-Ezillo, Ebonyi State Communal Conflicts and the Oruku/Umuode, Enugu State Communal Conflicts):
Communal clashed like these increase the vulnerability of women and children, promote dramatic survival strategies such as prostitution and often involve the abduction of women and children into armed groups/factions. Increased poverty of survivors particularly widows and female headed-households, is an endemic feature of armed conflicts. Migration as a response to armed conflict and insecurity results in exposing the most vulnerable to an array of dangers including discrimination, sexual violence, intimidation, recruitment into armed forces and trafficking. A significant portion of females in the eastern part of Nigeria could be seen as culturally submissive. Despite recent urbanization, many traditional social norms remain intact, and even well-educated women can still have marginal status. Women cannot inherit property, even if they are the only remaining heir. thus, women are trapped within a rigid hierarchy where the will of men is to be respected, this makes them extremely vulnerable to the manipulation and influence of traffickers.
5. The Greed of Traffickers:
Above many other factors that cause human trafficking are the traffickers themselves. Beyond cultural practices, the profit, vulnerabilities of certain people groups, lack of human rights, economic instability, and more, traffickers are the ones who choose to exploit people for their own gain. While many of these factors may play into the reasons why traffickers get into the business, they still make a willful decision to enslave people against their will—either because of the profit or because of a belief that certain people are worth less or because of a system of abuse and crime that they were raised in. Trafficking ultimately exists because people are willing to exploit others into trafficking situations.
PREVENTION/WAYS TO CURB HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Education and training to sensitize the population:
Education is necessary to enlighten the population and to sensitize persons to the consequences of child trafficking. Education supportive of, and combined with social mobilization is urgently needed. In order to succeed, this proposal must recognize the sensitive subject matter of child trafficking. The material must be designed in such a way that it allows educators to present questions and issues, which might otherwise be rejected by illiterate populations. One way of doing this might involve the publication of books with animations or pictures to allow educators to touch these delicate issues. This results in a pattern of Information – Education – Communication.
The capitalization of experiences:
Trafficked victims constitute a significant source of information and their experiences should be used in the design of rehabilitation programmes and strategies of prevention. Strengthening structures on the ground: structure providing initiatives aimed at prevention are many and varied. Among these are public and private sector structures at the local, regional, national or international level. It is essential and urgent to undertake an evaluation of competences and needs for these structures in order to, on one hand, identify those which provide true interventions, and on the other hand, to strengthen their capacities by providing them with the means to strengthen their skills and to become more professional. In order to accomplish this, it would be advisable to identify the types of assistance necessary for the existing structures in order to assist them in the specialization in socio-educational matters aimed at creating true professionals in the area of child protection.
Information, sensitization, training:
In the field of awareness raising and sensitization, actions must be aimed at the general population. Particular attention must be given to people living in areas of the country where children are at high risk of and are vulnerable to human trafficking (recruitment zones) and the transit and destination zones where child labour is occurring and children are being exploited. In a 103 number of these localities, local committees have been set up to take actions aimed at prevention of the phenomenon. The following targets should be addressed:
• The children (those at risk, trafficked victims, children in school, etc.)
• Individuals and their families (those families providing children as well as those who use trafficked children)
• Socio-professional, religious groups and the civil society (community leaders, traditional chiefs, organizations addressing the needs of children or (young) women, etc.)
• Public / Government services (police and security officers, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, safety, health care personnel, etc.)
• Media Actions must be multi-sectoral: actions must be aimed to increase economic resources, to establish and develop places for meeting and training, to provide basic structural actions or to work on direct changes of behaviours. These actions can be divided into a number of basic categories to include education, awareness raising at the village level and strengthening other areas to include economic assistance and registration of births.
1. Education / vocational training:
• Mandatory school attendance and school obligation reinforcement (sanction for parents whose child drops out of school) and establishment of alternative educational systems for children from 10 to 14 years
• Support and improvement of school infrastructures (quality and capacity)
• Introduction of school canteens to encourage school attendance of children who live far from the school • Improvement of the system of community teachers in order to mitigate the lack of teachers and prevent school drop outs
• Assistance for literacy programmes particularly in vulnerable zones and to women
• Introduction into the school programmes of specific modules relating to the rights of the child, especially in the primary education
• Dissemination of the experience of the UNICEF initiative “girls for girls” in the primary schools
• Address the issue of sexual abuse of pupils by their teachers; this initiative and similar projects would address the issue of school drop outs and the refusal of the parents to send their children to school
2. Creation of vocational training and the sensitizing of the population about the conditions to access apprenticeships and other training possibilities Awareness raising:
• Elaboration and distribution of sensitization and awareness raising materials (posters, comic strips, tee-shirts, audio and audio-visual material)
• Institutionalization of a two-week holiday programme for children, which would take place on an annual basis. Demonstrations on child rights and human trafficking would be part of the programme and involve participation of the children
• Compilation of texts of existing laws on human trafficking and their oral dissemination within the communities
• Creation of awareness through radio campaigns in the local communities aimed at the general population and in particular, at the children
• Public awareness campaign on the importance of education for children and the necessity to complete their education, particularly aimed at the female child
• Production and dissemination of radio and television spots Income generation:
• Promotion of opportunities for economic assistance to reduce the factors which place vulnerable families at risk
3. Introduction of income generating activities integrated with education for women to lift the standard of living of the families Activities at the village / community level:
• Support for the creation of socio-educational and leisure time spaces in the villages
• Creation of clubs for children in the communities and establishment of a meeting point for a dialogue between parents and children
• Old local committees must be involved in the fight against child labour and child trafficking; new local committees must be established which will be used to interact and stimulate all associations and actors in a given geographical territory; the involvement of members of the local committees must be strengthened to allow for a more efficient organization of their training, for prevention activities, assistance and follow-up to the reintegrated children, and to increase their capacity of intervention for the establishment and execution of a community-based alert system
• Setting up socio-community structures to counsel and provide orientation to out-of-school children
• At the community level or aimed at a specific target group, it is necessary to support the elaboration of a plan of action aimed at seeking solutions to identified problems. The execution of this plan of action should be established and monitored by a representative internal committee. The committee should prioritize the problems and define the strategies and means of mobilization to gradually solve the difficulties
• Compulsory registration of births and awareness raising campaign for the systematic registration of births; dissemination of information on the procedures for registration; support must be given to community leaders and health workers, they must be provided with materials and training to register births;
• Creation of a framework for periodic consultation of actors and agencies working in the field of child protection (local level and central level)
• Elaboration of a book of specifications for the fight against child trafficking
• Promotion of the community systems of health (e.g. family planning, psychological and medical programmes)
• Development of a research action plan • Assistance with establishing professional training for a ‘domestic helper’ branch
1 Female Husbands in Igbo Land: Southeast Nigeria by Kenneth Chukwuemeka Nwoko, Ph.D.
2 Trafficking of women in Nigeria: causes, consequences and the way forward by Linus Akor1
3 Communal conflicts in Nigeria: an examination of Ezillo and ezza-ezillo conflict of Ebonyi state, (1982-2012) by Dr. R.O. Oji, Department of Political Science, Enugu State University, Enugu. Eme, Okechukwu Innocent, Nwoba, Hyacinth A. Department of Public Administration and Local Government Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
4 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Measures to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Benin, Nigeria and Togo September 2006
5 National Rapporteurs on trafficking in persons and equivalent mechanisms in addressing trafficking in persons (NREMs) Institutional Framework – Nigerian perspective by Godwin E. Emorka; Assistant Director, Research and Programme Development
National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), Nigeria.