Bilkisu Isa Salihu
Human trafficking in Nigeria has continued to take disturbing dimensions with socio-economic, moral, and cultural consequences to the individual as well as national development. Such consequences remind one of the periods of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Trafficking in human beings is a clandestine global enterprise that affects almost all countries reaping enormous economic profits for traffickers and their local collaborators.
In this global trade, Nigeria serves as a source, and transit country, thus making her a major player in the human trafficking chain. Nigerian women and girl victims of trafficking are mainly recruited for domestic servitude and sex trafficking while boys are generally forced to work on plantations or in commercial farming, construction, quarries, and mines. Furthermore, they are engaged in petty crimes and the drug trade. Nigerian victims are taken to other West and Central African countries, as well as in South Africa.
According to the 2014 trafficking report, the trafficking of young women from Nigeria to Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation is one of the most persistent trafficking flows, as it is very well organized and It was estimated that 60-80 percent of all immigrants working in the commercial sex industry in Italy were Nigerians. Trafficking of children and women for exploitative purposes in Nigeria is of two dimensions: internal and external. Internally, children are procured as domestic workers, while externally, trafficking provides girls and women for prostitution rackets in Europe, and in some cases, unsuspecting young girls and women have fallen prey to traffickers who use them for rituals.
The inception of a democratic regime in Nigeria in 1999 seemed to have placed the issue of human rights, especially women and children, on the front burner of the national agenda with the government, individuals, and civil society campaigning against the phenomenon of women trafficking.
This piece examines the causes and consequences of the trafficking of women in Nigeria with a view to proffering possible solutions to the menace. A lot of researches have been carried out on this issue and reasons adduced for the thriving of this inglorious trade. Some of the causes are insatiable lust for money, materialism, and discrimination (particularly against women, children, and minorities) violence, general insecurity, internal displacement as a result of ethnic/religious crises, low level of education, particularly among women, that have greatly reduced the capacity of women in the formal labor sector, making them seek another means of sustenance and forcing them into the hands of traffickers.
To Oluseyi, (2002) the causes of trafficking could be attributed to heavily devalued Naira, illiteracy, lack of right attitude to women in African traditional social relation,s and the denial by the Government of effective citizenship for women and children in the fall of legal and constituent guarantees, the traditional culture which treats women as second class citizens, instructional lapses such as inadequate political commitments, infrastructure, vocational and economic opportunities and the demand for cheap labour at the informal sector among many others”. Kano state is an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria, yet patriarchy is still deeply entrenched in their ways of life. Consequently, men believe that women should not have a say in any gathering, and whatever is said by the men should be acknowledged and accepted with no obligations and objections from the women. Therefore, the womenfolk are over-shadowed by their beliefs; they have no right to object, to control their menfolk. This reinforces the opportunities for women trafficking by men through pilgrimage to Mecca and other countries of subbranch Africa and the Middle East like the United Arab Emirate, for prostitution.
The fight against human trafficking is just beginning and it requires the efforts of all and sundry. The efforts of the Civil Societies, Mass media Agencies, Embassies, and Government at State and Federal levels in creating awareness on this issue are commendable and should be sustained. Government must embark on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before mounting any Poverty Alleviation Schemes, as the various ones embarked upon have not made any meaningful impact in the lives of Nigerians. There must be adequate funding of Education so that the incessant closure of schools, culminating in disruption of the academic calendar would be eradicated.
There should also be a symbiotic relationship between Government, NGOs, embassies, and donor agencies to carry this fight to local areas. There must be in addition good governance, equal opportunities, justice, and provision of facilities, as these will minimize the urge to migrate. Finally, there should also be the training of security officers and the Media in the treatment and handling of trafficked victims.
Bilkisu is an intern at PR Nigeria center, Kano