The Ugly Face of Human Trafficking in Nigeria: Consequences on Victim, Family, and Society

The Ugly Face of Human Trafficking in Nigeria: Consequences on Victim, Family, and Society

Therese Leo Ikwuegbu
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9282-3.ch008
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Scholarship is replete with studies that suggest connections between several criminal forms of exploitation, such as harm and destruction of human dignity, forced labour, and modern slavery. As a complex manifestation of the global economy, human trafficking is an organized crime garbed with violations of human rights, which have serious physical and psychological effects on victims. However, despite many initiatives undertaken over the last two decades to tackle the problem, there seems to be a disproportionate emphasis on the socio-religious dimensions of the phenomenon. Thus, trafficking in persons remained a little explored area in scholarship with many inconsistencies and ambiguities yet to be attended to. Consequently, the major thrust of this chapter is to delve into the after-effect of this repulsive international enterprise on its victims, which paints a picture of a widespread human misery on the victims, their families, and the society.
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Scholarship is replete with the fact that millions of men, women and children are today victims of human trafficking for sexual, forced labor as well as other forms of exploitation worldwide (Ahluwalia, 2009). The human and economic costs of this transgression has taken an immense toll on individuals, families and communities. Human trafficking is a subject much researched by many scholars. Evidence abound that the problem of human trafficking cuts across a range of development issues, such as poverty, social inclusion, justice, and the rule of law, and thus has relevance for practitioners throughout the development communities of the world (Ellis, 2011). Even though the costs to human capital are probably impossible to quantify, there is however a steady growth of the human trafficking business because it is lucrative and brings quick wealth to the perpetrators with minimal risk (Odigie, 2009). The famous Palermo definition of human trafficking seems to give a more comprehensive description of the concept. In its word, human trafficking involves “…the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments of benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation (Ellis, 2011). Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs…”(United Nations, 2000:27).

Human trafficking is a different concept from smuggling, though there exist some similarities between the two. They both have to do with the illegality involved in bringing in persons across country boarders. However, the major difference lies in the lack of consent of the person and the motive for exploitation which are present in human trafficking but may be absent in smuggling (Aronowitz, 2001: 40). The victims of this inhuman trade are mostly the vulnerable, who in most cases due to status, economic background, illiteracy, and lack of adequate knowledge are prey to the felony of the traffickers. The victims are often, those seeking a way to escape from the unfavorable conditions they find themselves. They are desperate to leave their villages, cities and countries in search of better life opportunities (Mahmoud & Trebesch, 2010) rightly observed that; “A fundamental breeding ground for trafficking and exploitation is economic situation of people in poorer regions of the world, pushing vulnerable people to emigrate and seek better opportunities abroad”. (Mahmoud & Trebesch, 2010). Hence the economic situation of the country, the rising insecurity, the superficial religious commitment of individuals to the values upheld by their respective religions and lack of adequate family and social commitment all contribute in disposing such persons as willing subjects for trafficking.

In Nigeria as in many other countries affected by this despicable crime, women and young girls are the most affected. This seems to make human trafficking a gender-targeted crime. The vulnerability of the Nigerian woman; socially, economically and religiously, politically contribute to making women the easy and available tools of trafficking. Women have been conditioned to believe that they do not have equal status with men. This affects the way most women see their sexuality, among other things. They are conditioned to believe that they do not have the right to enjoy their sexuality which is supposedly the right of men to enjoy. Hence for many women, their sexuality is meant to be given to men, which makes it a commodity that could be traded for money or other needs . This is one of the rationale for prostitution besides economic reasons with which it intertwines.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Slavery: The state of being a slave to be sold into slavery opposite freedom (Hornby, 2006 AU40: The in-text citation "Hornby, 2006" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Dehumanization Process: It is a process mainly marked by the act of thinking any person inferior to others. Some voices have alerted this technique was originally used by Nazi Germani to perpetrate genocide.

Voodoo Ritual Oath: This was a formal ritual called “juju oath ceremony”, that guide and shape individuals, families and communities in trading with each other. It is usually done on a daily routine; as this rule was used in sealing their trading agreement with voodoo, just to guarantee that each side of the accord stayed faithful to their commitments. Destruction will go to the individual who tries to cheat on the other party (Jenny, 2011 AU41: The in-text citation "Jenny, 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. & Etchingham, 2015 AU42: The in-text citation "Etchingham, 2015" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). It is this tradition; the traffickers now take the advantage, by applying it to suit their purposes. They use it to control and silence their victims.

Human Trafficking: It is defined as the illegal trade of humans disposed forcefully for labour, sexual slavery or any type of illegal exploitation.

Exploitation: A situation in which somebody treats somebody else in an unfair way, especially in order to make money from their work (Hornby, 2006 AU39: The in-text citation "Hornby, 2006" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

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