According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated twenty-one million people are victims of the Human Trafficking ordeal and the number progresses by the minute. How did the victims get here? What do they face in these foreign lands? Is there a solution?
In Nigeria, the craze to seek greener pastures overseas has made many Nigerians throw caution to the wind and seek illegal means of immigration. This is one of the most popular ways in which traffickers exploit these ‘seekers of greener pastures’. The victims are deceived on the grounds of lucrative jobs, accommodation, education, a loving relationship and sometimes citizenship but in reality, none of these ever happen.
Data from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) records that Nigeria ranks 32/167 of the countries with the highest number of slaves littered in the world. They are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders; women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, and boys for forced labor in street vending, domestic servitude, mining, and begging. The victims are taken to North, West and Central African countries primarily, Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and the Gambia or to Europe, especially to Italy and Russia.
Traffickers employ a variety of control tactics on their victims like physical, emotional and drug abuse, sexual assault, confiscation of identification and money, isolation from friends and family, and even renaming victims. There’s usually nowhere to run to and no one to call, left helpless, all that the victims can do in order to survive is ‘do as told’ by their exploiters, now masters. Both underage girls and grown women are made to sleep with a numerous number of men daily to be abreast with the monetary targets given by their masters and at the end of the day or week, the masters give them meager sums or nothing from their proceeds.
Due to the lack of care given to the victims, most of them suffer from chronic sexually transmitted diseases, womb damage and in worst cases, death.
Nigeria in collaboration with NCFRMI, NAPTIP, United Nations, the Police, customs and immigration have systematically employed procedures to track down trafficked victims lurking in different parts of the world. Persons seen traveling with non-family members are immediately reprimanded by the force. The Public Enlightenment Unit of NAPTIP has partnered with Devatop Centre for Africa Development (DCAD) to educate yearly, over 5000 women, teenagers, educators and youth on how to prevent human trafficking. Organisations like the National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally displaced persons (NCFRMI) in collaboration with International Organization for Migration have put up a measure to help returned migrant re-integrate into the society by offering supports like shelter, medical care and skill acquisition in order to help them start up their lives.
Asides from DCAD, so many other anti-human trafficking agencies have been created such as the Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), Viable Knowledge Masters (VKM), Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking (ETAHT) to mention a few.
Most trafficked victims never envisaged a horrifying sojourn, for them, it would be a dream come true, a chance to live a better life. The result is far from their dreams. Often living most of the victims in a highly traumatic state, and in some cases, mental illness.
Only recently, reports from the United States has given Nigeria a pass mark in combating human trafficking through NAPTIP. Unfortunately, the multimillion criminal industry continues to thrive as there are more and more people in search of greener pastures.