Despite the fact that it is the 21st century, and we live in a civilised world, the issue of human trafficking still exists. Nigeria is one of the countries that have suffered from this problem for a long time. Today, we will try to figure out the major causes of human trafficking in Nigeria. What pushes people towards human trafficking? What is the purpose of human trafficking? Find out here.
What is human trafficking?
According to the UN’s protocol that was created in order to prevent trafficking (also known as Palermo Protocol), human trafficking is when people recruit, transfer, transport or harbour other people against their will by using force, blackmail, deception, fraud and other malicious means.
Human trafficking has three elements to it:
- The act, or what exactly has been done to the victim. Were they illegally recruited, transported or harboured?
- The means, or how it has happened. Did they use coercion, force, blackmail, fraud, abduction or deception?
- The purpose, or why it has happened. Were victims trafficked for exploitation, slavery or organ removal?
While we are going to touch a little bit on the subject of why human trafficking happens in Nigeria, the main thing we are going to discuss is what pushes people into the realm of human trafficking.
The issue of human trafficking in Nigeria
Human trafficking is a global problem. However, a large portion of victims comes from the African countries, particularly Nigeria. Nigeria is both the source and the destination for human trafficking. The country is actually on the U.S. Tier 2 Watch list.
Women and children become the victims of child trafficking more often than men. They are used for the purposes of slavery, exploitation and servitude. However, men and young boys can also be used in human trafficking for the purposes of working in quarries, mines and on the fields.
But what pushes Nigerians towards human trafficking? Find out below.
Five causes of human trafficking
There are many reasons why people might get involved in human trafficking, both as victims and as perpetrators. But today we will focus on the goals that people pursue and the things they are running from that land them in the hands of the human traffickers. Here are the five main causes of human trafficking.
As Nigeria is quite a tumultuous country, with Biafra conflicts in the south and Boko Haram in the north, it is no wonder that some people might want to get away. This, in turn, makes them extremely vulnerable to the perpetrators of human trafficking.
At the same time, those that are not trying to leave anywhere can also become victims of human trafficking if they stay in the epicentre of the armed conflict. Either side can just barge into the homes and kidnap people to use them in their plans.
Ignorance on the topic of human rights
One of the main causes of human trafficking in Nigeria is the complete disregard for human rights. Women (and also children) are often viewed as objects that can be sold. Thus, they are sold into slavery and sexual exploitation or forced into marriages.
On the other hand, women often resort to seeking alternative opportunities outside of their home country because of the lack of respect or discrimination. When this happens, they are more easily deceived into human trafficking.
Among other causes of human trafficking, there is also the constant search for wealth. People are often unsatisfied with what they have, even if they have perfectly decent living conditions, so they try to go out there in search of a better life.
This is particularly relevant for Nigerians, as many of them have this incessant idea of getting very rich very fast. The Nigerian web is riddled with ads for earning money with little to no effort (MMM, anyone?), and lots of people actually try them and end up in the hands of very bad people.
Despite the fact that Nigeria has one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in Africa, many of its citizens cannot find jobs. Many people cannot get decent education and learn relevant skills in order to get a proper job. Therefore, they try to search somewhere else.
What is also important to mention is that even those who have a diploma and skills struggle to find a place to work. And as they try to find something in another country, they might encounter fraudsters that might lure them into something terrible under a false pretence of employment abroad.
Poverty as a cause of human trafficking
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As a result of unemployment, many Nigerian citizens struggle to keep their heads above water. Those who have large debts can easily become victims of slavery and exploitation. Similarly, people who have no money often have no other choice but to sell themselves in order to at least have some food and a roof over their heads.
In some cases, traffickers are even able to deceive parents into giving up their children. In hope that their kids might have a chance at a better life, parents send them off. That way, when they think their kids are somewhere living happily, they might be slaving away at some sweatshop or somewhere even worse.
What is the purpose of human trafficking?
We have considered what pushes people into human trafficking. What is also important to mention is what spheres call for human trafficking. Why is there a demand for human trafficking in Nigeria? Here are seven main reasons why people are trafficked in Nigeria:
- Sexual exploitation. This is one of the biggest branches of human trafficking in Nigeria. Women and young girls are either shipped off to other countries or left in the country to work in prostitution, escort or the adults films industry.
- Labour exploitation. Victims of human trafficking are made to work in abusive or even hazardous working conditions, as nobody would willingly work there.
- Domestic work. Children from as small as five years old are used for performing various domestic tasks. They usually have no documents, rights or knowledge that would help them escape the situation, so they are forced to work for food and shelter.
- Military conscription. Sometimes, especially in times of war or major conflicts, children are forced to fight. An example of this would be the use of child suicide bombers by Boko Haram.
- Forced marriage. As we have said before, girls and women are often forced into marrying a complete stranger. Parents can either do this because of traditions or for a hefty sum of money.
- Organ harvesting. This is arguably the most terrifying reason for human trafficking, as the victims usually do not live long enough to tell the tale if they are not rescued in time. Human organs have always been in high demand, which makes human trafficking for organ harvesting a very ‘lucrative opportunity’.
- Illicit adoption. Often nurses in hospitals tell the mothers that their child was stillborn, when in fact the baby is sold to wealthy adoptive parents (best-case scenario). At the same time, sometimes mothers themselves sell their children.
Human trafficking is a serious issue that should not be overlooked. It is the modern day slavery, and we should do everything we can to stop this menace. Protect yourself and your loved ones.
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