With the celebration of international women’s day last week, it feels right to talk about how the female gender has become an “endangered species” when addressing the issue of human trafficking in Nigeria and the world. Human trafficking is a societal plague that has sunken its abominable teeth deep into our society’s bone and marrow for ages now. You can hardly watch televised news or listen to a radio set without reading headlines and hearing news of human trafficking and related media content. Human trafficking can be tagged modern slavery because it involves the inhumane use of deception and fraud, aggressive force to exploit victims sexually and commercially or trade victims for cash or barter in the human trafficking market.
With Nigeria as a case study, this article threads on human trafficking using the female gender as context. Deploying research statistics as a parameter, 8 out of 10 people kidnapped were females between January and June 2021. According to The National Agency for the prohibition of Trafficking in Persons(NAPTIP), it recorded that of the 741 victims rescued in June 2021, 55% of them were females, and 45% were under the age of 18.
With the above statistical deduction, it is logical to ask why the female gender is the target for perpetrators of human trafficking. Females can be sexually exploited and have reproductive features (for those into baby trafficking), making them a good selling point to human traffickers. Moreover, females are considered vulnerable and make suitable servants and maids.
In the modern-day, some career-oriented women share their experiences on opportunities lost and chances missed when faced with taking a job offer outside of their state or nation of residence because of the preempted fear of being kidnapped, trafficked or mutilated with their body parts sold. This heinous trend has made many vibrant and ambitious women withdraw into their protective shells and not fully exploit that career path or progression if the job requires long travels. News and stories of schoolgirls and innocent citizens abducted and held hostage for ransoms fill the Nigerian news daily; some kidnapped victims are rescued while others are not. Were the unlucky ones trafficked or sold into prostitution or slavery? or are they kept in unknown locations breeding babies? or are they married off to foreigners without their consent?
Using the Nigerian constitution as a legal backing, it categorically states that;
“The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect….”Section 17 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended to 2018
The human trafficking ring is a deep rabbit hole. Government and human trafficking prevention agencies need to re-strategise and reinforce their plans to curb, contain and systematically eradicate this societal ill. This action will mentally and physically empower women to get out of their comfort zone and break that bias without boundaries.
For any complaint on sexual and gender-based violence, you can reach out to Citizens’ Gavel for legal advice on this number: 08102-842-542.
Article by OLUBUSI TUNMISE(Communications Associate at Citizens' Gavel)
Edited by Taiwo Makanjuola, Communications Associate, Citizens’ Gavel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org