1.1 Background to the Study
Two hundred years after the abolition of the transatlantic slave dealing, the enslavement of human continued unabated. The slave trade which was supposed to have ended in 19th century resurfaced in the 21st century with forms of modernizations. Every year numbers of young girls, women and unsuspecting men are tricked into leaving their homes on a promise of better life else where. They either end up dieing along the way or subjected to dehumanizing treatments. In earlier times, persons were bought and sold as commodities and used as instruments of free labour in plantations in America and the Caribbean. Today there are more people being bought and sold than in the entire 300-year history of the Atlantic slave trade. These are ensnared into slavery and slavery like conditions under the guise of a better life across nations borders and even locally. They are robbed of their freedom and human dignity.
Fagun in Ebegbulem (2012) recognized that the greatest value in human life is freedom and that the greatest enemy of freedom is slavery and human exploitation. He claimed it is man’s inhumanity to man. Slavery makes disadvantaged people the property of people of greater advantage.
The part of man’s inhumanity to man under discussion in this work is human trafficking which has been described by many scholars as modern day slavery. It is a subtle path to slavery. The phenomenon of human trafficking is not particularly new in our society, with countries as either source, transit or destination. It is common knowledge that many Nigerian women and girls are enslaved as prostitutes in Europe with hundreds of them entrapped mostly against their will in forced prostitution, although it is not easy to provide exact stastistics because of the clandestine nature of the trade . However, it is estimated that some 40,000 to 50,000 Nigerian women may already be caught up in such trafficking and that some 6 million Nigerian children may be at risk of being drawn into this movement Akinyoade, (2011).
Perpetrators are not totally strangers but can be family members, peers, neighbors etc. with selfish ends for their own personal aggrandizement. Human trafficking can take the form of internal or external trafficking. Internal trafficking involves movement of person within a country for exploitative purposes while external or international form involves movement across nations borders for same purpose. The motive being financial benefits for the traffickers. Human trafficking has received increased global attention over the years. Initially the term traffick was first used to refer to the white slave trade in women around 1900. The trafficking and voluntary migration of white women from Europe to Arab and Eastern States as concubines or prostitutes was of particular concern to European middle class men, women and governments. The result was the creation of an international agreement for suppression of the white slave trade in 1904. As at that time, traffic meant the movement of women for inimical purpose as well as closely linked to slavery. Initially the definition required the crossing of country borders but by 1910 it changed to acknowledge traffic in women could occur within national boundaries. Right from then human trafficking became a global problem and even decades after the 1900s .
Trafficking of women and girls for forced sex work and other forms of exploitation has become the sole focus of advocacy and assistance. Today, there is recognition that women, children and men are trafficked into many different forms of labour, and for sexual exploitation (World Health Organisation, 2012). In Nigeria the trend involves both internal and external trafficking. According to UN. Gift facebook posting (2012), 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year; out of this number 70% are female while others are children. It is common Knowledge that around 1990s, the trend for international prostitution especially in destination countries like Italy was alarming. The involvement of Nigerians in it painted Nigeria in a very bad light. Research showed that the main perpetrators of this shameful act were women from one of the tribes in South South part of Nigeria. Uhimwen (2006), submitted it was a common sight in the early 1990s to see bold headlines stories on national dailies of Nigerian girls involved in international prostitution being deported from Italy back to Nigeria. He added that the situation was so appalling that every black woman in Italy was seen as a potential prostitute.
At that time there was an increasing evidence showing many states in Nigeria are being affected by the problem as source, transit, destination or a mixture of these three components. Prevalent source areas in Nigeria include Edo, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, Abia, Eboyi, Enugu, Imo states. The most common transit states identified are Lagos, Kano, Sokoto, Borno and cross River. Human trafficking in these states had both domectic and international dimensions. Attractive internal destination are Lagos Kastina, Ogun, Kano state and Abuja. On the international arena, National Agency for the prohibition of traffic in persons and other related matters and Nigeria immigration service identified the most common external destination countries for human trafficking from Nigeria as Italy, France, Belguim, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and until recently Dubai, Russia, Spain, Saudi Arabia became inclusive. In the West African Sub region, identified countries include Republic of Benin, Mali, Sierra Leone, Cameroun, Gabon, Niger, Guninea, Togo and Ghana.
External trafficking for sexual exploitation became more visible by the turn of 1990s, and has taken a vantage position in the trafficking discourse than internal trafficking. It was against this backdrop that notable women like her excellencies, Titi Atiku Abubakar and Eki Igbinedion set out to redeem the image of Nigeria and that of the Nigerian woman.
They sponsored bills against prostitution at various levels of government. Eki Igbinedion sponsored a bill against prostitution at the state legislature in Edo State South South Nigeria and joined Titi Atiku Abubakar in the presentation of the National law against trafficking related offences bill. It was the bill at the National level that saw the emergence of the anti trafficking initiative and establishment of National Agency For The Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) in 2003, which is today a lead agency in anti trafficking in Nigeria.
The researcher would want to consider the definition of human trafficking under two perspectives. First is the definition in the United Nations convention against transnational Organized Crime Protocol to Prevent and Suppress Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children (2000). According to this document, trafficking is defined as:
recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, or fraud or deception, or abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payment or benefit to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include at a minimum the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organ.
The second perspective draws from the domestication of the above United Nations convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its supplementary protocols. The domestication of the document gave rise to trafficking in person prohibition law enforcement and administration Act 2003 which is the enabling law against human trafficking in Nigeria. The trafficking in person prohibition law enforcement administration Act, 2003:72 defines trafficking as:
all acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transport within or across Nigeria border, purchase, sale, transfer, receipt or harbouring of a person involving the use of deception coercion or debt bondage for the purpose of placing of holding the person whether for or in involuntary sexual (domestic, sexual or reproductive) in force or bonded labour, or in slavery-like conditions.
NATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR REINTEGRATION AND REHABILITATION OF VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN SOUTH SOUTH COMMANDS IN NIGERIA TO BE RESPONDED BY THE OFFICIALS OF UNICEF, IOM NIG, UNODC AND NGOs WORKING IN THE AREA OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING.
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