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Overview of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking exists in Nigeria and around the world today, and it affects women, girls, children and youth. Human trafficking leaves no country untouched. Nigerians are trafficked right here and outside the borders. It is closer to us than we can imagine.  Anyone can be trafficked; it doesn’t matter if the person is rich or poor, educated or uneducated, in rural or urban area.  This is the greatest human rights violation, and you can do something about it.

We cannot pretend as if human trafficking does not exist. We cannot turn our back to victims. We cannot overlook or neglect the vulnerable ones. We have to take action, and nothing but action. Most importantly young people need to actively get involved in combating human trafficking, because it is a threat to their future.

If we don’t do something now, something worse will happen, and more people will become victims to human trafficking. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking; it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, from rural or urban area, big or small, male or female, etc.

Martin Luther King (Jnr) made it clear when he said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”. Human trafficking matters and should be a concern to everyone. There is an urgent need for more young people to be in the forefront of combating human trafficking, and no one needs to wait until he is directly affected before speaking out against this evil.  William Wilberforce said, “Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me”.

Meaning of Human Trafficking:

According to United Nations, “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits 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 organs;”


It can also be referred to as a recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, and other forms of exploitations and abuses.


Simplified Definition:

Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.


It occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to provide labor and services or engage in a commercial sex act.


  • Internal human trafficking involves from rural to urban or from urban to urban
  • External human trafficking involves from a country to another country.


Imagine the Statistics

  • According to United Nations News Centre, an estimated 27 million women, girls, boys, and men are currently victims of human trafficking globally. This number of victims is more than the population of Zambia, Namibia, Australia, Netherlands, North Korea or Togo.
  • According to 2016 Global Slavery Index Report, there are 875, 500 Nigerians who are victims of modern slavery.
  • Also, a report by DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute finds 80 percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, with some as young as 6.
  • The number of people trafficked across international borders (transnational victims) every year has been placed at 800,000, 50 percent of whom are children and 80 percent women and girls (U.S. Department of State, 2007).
  • According to United Nations, each year $32 billion is generated from the exploitation of victims of human trafficking.
  • According to Millions Suffer in Sex Slavery(News Max 2016), more than 30, 000 victims of human trafficking die every year as a result of abuse, hunger, disease and torture.
  • 71% of trafficking victims around the world are women and girls and 29% are men and boys.
  • A human trafficker can receive up to 2000 percent profit from a girl trafficked for sex.


Statistics from International Labour Organization

Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, according to the ILO report from 2014. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:

    • $99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
    • $34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
    • $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
    • $8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers (house maid, etc) under conditions of forced labor or bonded labour.

Millions of young people who are unemployed, uneducated, unskilled, discriminated, marginalized, maltreated at home, driven out of the their home, facing community crisis, and uncared for are vulnerable to human trafficking.


If you don’t take action:

If you don’t take action against human trafficking:

  1. More young people will be trafficked.
  2. More young people will die as a result of human trafficking. Maybe 60, 000 or more death yearly.
  3. Our unborn children and little children maybe in the situation of human trafficking


House Help Are Now House Slaves

A lot of ‘house helps’ are now  ‘house slaves’ because children are moved from different parts of Nigeria to the urban areas for ‘house help’ with a promise of going to school, getting paid, and this eventually leads to denial of promises and exploitation of their services. The widespread practice of entrusting poor children to more affluent friends or relatives may create vulnerability in Nigeria.  Women have been enslaved as domestic workers in homes  in Nigeria and other countries. This practice consists of “giving” children away, often in exchange of money, with the motivation to give more opportunities to children to escape a situation of chronic poverty and access a better life.


A Weapon Against The Future of Young People:

The future of so many young people has been hampered, their dreams frustrated and potentials caged because of the triumph of human trafficking. For years, human trafficking has continued to thrive in the shadow and in the silence of others. Young people are mostly vulnerable and susceptible to trafficking in persons. Our girls and women are trafficked and used as money generating machine. Our boys and young men are used as tractors or heavy duty machines.  It saps the very potential of our nation by frustrating the aspiration of our young people.

They are often preyed on by traffickers and lured with false promises of love, money, employment, scholarship, or better life. Some are sold into trafficking by their parents, boyfriends, friends, or acquaintances, while some are abducted from their school, homes, playground, streets etc.

Many victims are sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, and significant others, whereas others are unwillingly and forcibly kidnapped by traffickers.

Why Human Trafficking

Despite all the efforts made in combating human trafficking, it still thrives.  Nigerian government has used different approaches to combat human trafficking, but it seemed that more young people are getting trapped by the perpetrators.


Very Close To You:

Human trafficking isn’t just in your town – it’s in your home, since human trafficking victims are forced to make many of the products we use everyday.   If your kitchen is stocked with rice, chocolate, fresh produce, fish, or coffee, those edibles might have been harvested by trafficking victims. If you’re wearing gold jewelry, athletic shoes, or cotton underwear, you might be wearing something made by slaves.


We Can End It

The good news is not only that we can end human trafficking around the world, we can end it within a generation. But to achieve that goal, everyone needs to work together.


What Causes Human Trafficking

Traffickers: The trafficker’s willful decision to profit by compelling people to work or prostitute is among the factors that lead to human trafficking. Human traffickers are desperately and greedily searching for any slight opportunity to prey on young people, especially women. They can go extra mile, even kidnapping anyone for the purpose of exploitations.  Traffickers are constantly scheming to exploit others, and as well as bring greedy people into their network. Greed has poisoned that soul of many, and made them see their fellow human beings as  as money generating machines. Any person that has exploitative tendency or show some signs of deceiving people to make undeserved profit may be a potential trafficker.


Poverty: Many young people and parents want to get out of their situation, so they risk everything to leave where they are or to send out their children to those they feel will support.  This creates situation of vulnerability, and traffickers promising jobs, scholarship or greener pastures in towns or in other countries take advantage of them for exploitation.  Upon their arrival to another state, city or country, captors take control.

Political Instability: Political instability, militarism, generalized violence or civil unrest can result in an increase in trafficking as well. The destabilization and scattering of populations increase their vulnerability to unfair treatment and abuse via trafficking and forced labor.

Ignorance/Illiteracy: Traffickers can prey on victims or their parents’ lack of education or ignorance of what human trafficking is. However, it will be very difficult, if not impossible for traffickers to lure a young person who is knowledgeable about human trafficking and its indicator.  Most people fall victims to human trafficking because they weren’t informed about the scourge, its causes, effects and indicators.

Social and Cultural Practices: Many societies and cultures devalue, abuse and exploit women and girls, creating perilous living conditions for these women.  With little opportunities of upward mobility and with little value placed on women and girls, they are more vulnerable to human trafficking. In some families, girls are seen as burdens and liabilities, and lack family support, and experience family pressure which precipitate their involvement into sex industry.

Lack of Contentment: Here, the constant search for wealth is responsible. People are often unsatisfied with what they have, even if they have perfectly decent living conditions, so they try to go out there in search of a better life.

Family crisis or maltreatment at home: When children or teenagers face family crisis leading to parents’ divorce, they become vulnerable to trafficking. Also the maltreatment of children can create a situation of vulnerability, especially when they become desperate to leave their home due to maltreatment against them. When we rescued Shaibu and counselled her, we observed that she was maltreated by her step-mother, which made her succumb to the promise of a stranger.

Demand for Sex:  They are also targeted because of the demand for women in sex trafficking.

Low Self Esteem:  Some people do not have self-esteem either they are not educated (illiterate) or want to have a better life or they may end up leaving the country by all means possible.


Demand for cheap labor: The service industry, particularly restaurants and kitchens, are common exploiters of human trafficking. There is also a demand for cheap domestic and agricultural labor. Employees are often initially promised a safe work space and a steady salary, only to later find that they are paid nothing or less than minimum wage after working over time and enjoying no freedom whatsoever.


Community Crisis, Insurgency, Political Tussle, War and Environmental Factors/Natural Disaster: War, community crisis, flood, insurgency, civil strife, and political tussle may lead to massive displacements of populations, leaving poor people, orphans and street children extremely vulnerable to trafficking.

Desire to migrate and to study or work in the urban city and abroad: This desperation makes young people quick to accept any offer to travel.

Lack of adequate legislation and of political will and commitment to enforce existing legislation or mandates are other factors that facilitate trafficking in persons.

The practice of entrusting poor children to other people: Poor parents sell their children, not just for money, but also in the hope that their children will escape a situation of chronic poverty and move to a place where they will have a better life and more opportunities

Porous border: When a nation’s borders are not guided and meticulously monitored, it will encourage traffickers to take advantage and move their preys.

Effects of human trafficking

Societal Effect:  

It separates children from their families. Most of the victims are treated as collaborators of the crime and not as victims. They are deprived of education, human rights, and rights to health and to freedom. Victims of human trafficking may experience discrimination and stigmatization in the society, from their family members, colleagues, friends, and even those who rehabilitate them. The victims always struggle to gain acceptance in the society from the stigma after being rescued. The victims are likely to become withdrawn and tend to be suicidal.


Psychological effect:

The victims suffer from lack of self-esteem, emotional disturbance, disorientation, and depression and are scarred for life. They may develop deep psychological disorders that they struggle with for the rest of their lives even if they have been rescued. The victims are likely to become withdrawn from friends and family members.


Health effect:

Victims of sex trafficking often suffer serious physical abuse, broken bones, burns, and starvation. They are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, Gonorrhea, etc.  There can be pregnancy, resulting from rape or prostitution. There are instances where victims suffer infertility from chronic untreated sexually transmitted infections or botched or unsafe abortions.


Victims of labour exploitation suffer from malnourishment and serious dental problems. These are especially acute with child trafficking victims who often suffer from retarded growth and poorly formed or rotted teeth.


Economic effect:

Human trafficking causes government a huge amount of money to address, especially in rescuing and rehabilitating the victim. Those who are trafficked have talents and ideas. Thousands of young people with talents and ideas that will benefit a country economically fall victims to human trafficking, and this reduces the human capital of a nation.  Human trafficking destroys the future of any society.


The victims have potential to contribute to the development of their countries, but through human trafficking, they are exploited and often times they may not function effectively in the society.

This gives rise to wastage of resources, poor standard of living, and high crime rates. Human trafficking slows down the economic growth of a nation.



According to Millions Suffer in Sex Slavery NewsMax, More than 30, 000 victims of human trafficking die every year as a result of abuse, hunger, disease, torture, etc.