Although slavery was abolished centuries ago, modern slavery in form of human trafficking – which involves the illegal trade of humans for money or other forms of exploitation – remains a $150 billion global business.
About two thirds of this figure is generated from commercial sexual exploitation and the rest is generated from forced economic exploitation such as domestic work. The average girl or woman trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation is estimated to fetch about $100,000 in annual profits.
Nigeria has a trafficking problem
Nigeria remains a source, transit and destination country when it comes to human trafficking. Per the latest Global Slavery Index (2018) Report, Nigeria ranks 32/167 of the countries with the highest number of slaves – 1,386,000 – and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reports that the average age of trafficked children in Nigeria – now upgraded to a Tier 2 country on the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons Report (2019) – is 15 years.
NAPTIP further contends that 75% of those who are trafficked within Nigeria are trafficked across states, while 23% are trafficked within states. Only 2% of those who are trafficked are trafficked outside the country, according to NAPTIP (2016). It is the third most common crime in Nigeria after drug trafficking and economic fraud (UNESCO, 2006). The general factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking in Nigeria include extreme poverty (now the world’s poverty capital), corruption, conflict, climate change/resulting migration and western consumerism.
Serious Threat to Human Dignity
The UN resolution also states that trafficking in persons, especially women and children, constitutes an offense and a serious threat to human dignity and physical integrity, human rights, and development. Despite sustained measures taken at the international, regional, and national levels, trafficking in persons remains one of the grave challenges facing the international community, which also impairs the enjoyment of human rights and needs a more concerted international response.
According to the 2016 UN report, women and girls tend to be trafficked for marriages and sexual slavery, while men and boys are typically exploited for forced labour in the mining sector, as porters, and as soldiers. It also states that refugees from war and persecution are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking.
World Day against Trafficking in Persons
In 2013, the UN member states adopted a resolution which designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. They declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
The Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was adopted in 2010 and urges governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat human trafficking in all its forms. The UN plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programs to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.
Further Recommendations for Nigeria
Some recommendations for Nigeria to tackle human trafficking by RefWorld.org include;
1. Expand existing efforts to identify trafficking victims among IDPs, investigate cases, and implement preventative measures;
2. Release those suspected child ex-combatants and women who are inappropriately detained, screen for trafficking among those detained, and provide appropriate care;
3. Further increase funding for NAPTIP, particularly to provide adequate victim care;
4. Increase investigations into forced begging in Quranic schools;
5. Finalize the draft protocol to hand children identified in armed conflict over to civilian authorities;
6. Increase training for judges on the 2015 law, specifically the provision prohibiting the issuance of fines in lieu of imprisonment;
7. Allow trafficking victims to obtain employment and move freely in and out of NAPTIP shelters;
8. Expand ongoing police and immigration training to include identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and young females traveling with non-family members;
9. Increase the capacity of Nigerian embassies to identify and aid victims abroad, including by providing replacement travel or identity documents free of charge;
10. Provide pre-departure information for migrants on how to find assistance if exploited abroad.