Human trafficking exists in Nigeria and around the world today, and it affects all categories of human beings particularly women and children. Human trafficking leaves no country untouched, and generates billions in profit at the expense of thousands of victims each year. Nigerians are trafficked right here and outside the borders to Europe and other continents. Every year, thousands of vulnerable Nigerians – the majority of whom are women and children– are deceived, forced and sold into situations of exploitation.
According United Nations, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons (ACT); by threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim (MEANS); for the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs (PURPOSE).
Who is a Victim?
Victims of human trafficking are individuals subjected to one or more forms of exploitation, as contained in the above definition of human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking can be children, teenagers or adults. Victims could be living in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
A victim could be someone
trapped in forced labour in a factory or farm with bruises on his/her body. A
victim could be an abused
a child who will not say where he/she is
coming from or going, and who is accompanied by a controlling companion who
insists on speaking for him/her. Victim
can be that fearful child, teenager or woman who quietly slips in and out of a
religious gathering unaccompanied or accompanied by someone. The victims could
be someone who lives in the neighborhood or in your community, yet doesn’t have
freedom of movement, and possibly filled with anxiety or fear. It could be
someone whose travel documents has been seized;
someone in debt bondage; someone who was deceived; someone sold in
exchange for money; orphans or street children.
Victims can be found in every state in Nigeria and can be seen in factories, farms, streets, schools, clubs, offices, homes, hospitals, religious gatherings, hotels, orphanage homes, and brothels; at airports, seaports, motor parks and on buses, cars or trains. They may be closer to you than you imagine; and you may have seen them without identifying that they are victims.
Victims Have Different Painful Experiences
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in her Fact Sheet stated that the consequences of human trafficking on victims include: long lasting psychological effect, human rights violation, degradation, personal health risks, and could result to death of victims.
Also, the U.S. Department of State noted, “because traffickers dehumanize and objectify their victims, victims’ innate sense of power, visibility, and dignity often become obscured.”
Because of awful experiences, some victims are induced or resort to using destructive substances like drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms to deal with stressful and traumatic daily life and to numb the pain of their experiences.
When identified and rescued, victims may harbour deep feelings of mistrust towards official bodies because of experiences in the hands of their exploiters. Frequently, victims fear violent retaliation by traffickers against themselves and family members in their countries or states of origin.
The Need for Protection and Assistance
From the above experiences of victims of human trafficking, there is need to restore the trafficked persons to the state of physical, psychological, social, vocational and economic wellbeing through sustainable assistance and protection programmes. It is worthy of note that different victims have different needs, and their needs are to be served without discrimination to age, sex, origin, color, or ability.
The UNTOC Trafficking Protocol requires States Parties to provide victims with ‘(a) Appropriate housing; (b) Counseling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights, in a language that the victims of trafficking in persons can understand; (c) Medical, psychological and material assistance; and (d) Employment, educational and training opportunities’
When protecting and assisting rescued trafficked persons, service providers need to include a wide range of different specialized services, addressing the specific needs of each individual. Also, the human rights of trafficked persons should be at the centre of all efforts.
Below are some categories of services that need to be provided to trafficked persons:
- Crisis Intervention and Counseling
- Emergency Shelter and Referrals
- Urgent Medical Care
- Safety Planning
- Food and Clothing
- Case Management
Economic Empowerment Services
- Job Training/Skill acquisition programme
- Education (Primary, Secondary and/or Tertiary Education)
- Employment Assistance (support with securing employment or becoming self-employed)
- Empowerment of Victim’s family
Health Care Services:
- Treatment of injuries, diseases, etc.
- Medical check-up
- Legal Representation
- Witness Protection
- Immigration Status
- Criminal Case Services
- Civil Case Services
- Family Court Services
Vacatur of Convictions
The Action Against trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM) began in 2018, through an agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Nigeria, with the objective to reduce the trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, at national, regional and international level, and between Nigeria and the European Union, with specific emphasis in women and children, working with main Nigerian agencies, such as NAPTIP, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Police Force and the representative of the civil society, NACTAL. A-TIPSOM project is tackling human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Nigeria through the 5Ps which include Prevention, Protection, Policy, Partnership and Prosecution.
Joseph Chidiebere Osuigwe,
Communication and Awareness Raising Officer(Consultant),