Media, the Family, and Human Trafficking in Nigeria

Media, the Family, and Human Trafficking in Nigeria

Stellamaris Ngozi Okpara (Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0210-5.ch007


Human trafficking is a phenomenon that has attracted global attention. In Africa, it has existed even before the slave trade between Africans and Europeans, when people were trafficked for mainly economic and cultural reasons. The prevalence of human trafficking today, especially in developing countries, and the spate of ignorance among rural dwellers make it a complex issue requiring a multi-stakeholder approach for resolution. This chapter hypothesises that the more aware families are of human trafficking and its forms of manifestation, the less the likelihood of its occurrence. It was revealed that the media had not fulfilled its social responsibility in raising awareness about human trafficking, hence the continued involvement of people in this act. Further, it was discovered that most media professionals have little or no knowledge of the dimensions of human trafficking. Based on the findings, the chapter recommends that Nigerian media need to embark on effective public sensitisation in deconstructing human trafficking and its attendant consequences in Nigerian society.
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Human trafficking has been with humanity since inception. It has been a constant trend in the socio-economic permutations of developing countries especially in Africa, Asia, and South America (Ajagun, 2012). Global recession, increased poverty, social and political conflicts, natural disasters and climate change are indices that have contributed to the rapid growth of trafficking and how people are being pulled up for trafficking (United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, 2000). Beyond the social impact of human trafficking, Enaikele and Olutayo (2011) disclosed that approximately 800,000 persons are trafficked globally every year and estimated its market value at about $ 32 billion (South African Government Information, 2009). The global awareness about human trafficking has increased considerably with state and non-state actors collaborating to ensure that the crime is brought under control. In Nigeria as well as other Sub-Saharan African countries, human trafficking continues to evade institutional measures (Ofuoku, 2010). Contrary to speculations that the situation is endemic in the southern states in Nigeria, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research (UNICRI, 2004) revealed that there is no part of the country that is not affected by the menace. NAPTIP (2016) further confirmed that human trafficking is practised in all the six (6) geopolitical regions in the country; this makes it a critical issue in need of a multi-stakeholder approach.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2006) described human trafficking as a demand-driven business that has a large market for cheap labour. The forms in which trafficking exists within the global context include trafficking in person, forced labour, commercial sex, child labour and domestic work and, more recently, organ harvesting. The World Health Organisation has reported that about 11,000 kidneys obtained from kidnapped and trafficked victims were sold on the black market in 2010 (Bagheri and Delmonico, 2013). Forte (2006) identified migrant smuggling, sex trafficking, and labour trafficking as the three major categories of human trafficking. Forte disclosed that migrant smuggling involves trafficking consensual migrants who are assisted by smugglers to cross a national border. Sex trafficking is the trafficking in people, especially women and young children, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Victims of sex trafficking are forced into “commercial sex industry – pornography, prostitution, stripping, live sex shows or illegal massage parlours or escort services” (Forte, 2006:34).

Nigeria has acquired a reputation for being one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. The dimension of internal trafficking in Nigeria is alarming as more of the trafficking cases followed the rural-urban pattern (Abdulkadir, 2012). Okojie (2014) disclosed that the pattern of internal trafficking is rampant in rural communities in Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Imo, Benue, Niger, and Kwara States. The identified urban destinations include Abeokuta, Ibadan, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Calabar, and Port Harcourt (Okjie, 2014). Folami (2008) disclosed that majority of the persons in this trafficking pattern are children between 10 and 14 years of age. It was disclosed that about 7.6 million Nigerian children are involved in the internal trafficking pattern, with boys accounting for about 60% of the trafficked children (Folami, 2008). The implication of this is that more school-aged children will be deprived the opportunity of having access to qualitative education. This defeats the UN’s sustainable action on improved access to qualitative education for all children.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Media Framing: In line with the agenda-setting role of the media, it refers to how the media extends discourse to the essence of a subject.

UNODC: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, a UN outfit in charge of crime prevention and drug control.

Voluntary Trafficking: The act of releasing oneself to be trafficked.

Commercial Sex: Trading sexual intercourse for financial or other benefits.

NAPTIP: National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.

Media Reportage: The manner in which information is disseminated for various purposes.

UNCRC: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty on the civil, economic, political, social and cultural rights, among others, of children.

Sexual Exploitation: Taking advantage of a person because of any form of weakness the victim possesses.

Boko Haram: Jihadist terrorist group that sprang from northeast Nigeria but with activities in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and southern Cameroon.

Internal Trafficking: The kind of trafficking that happens within a local border.

Social Responsibility: The duties individuals and groups owe the society, usually for collective good.

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