By Tola Ojo
It has been argued that the past is a channel through which the present flows and the present is a medium from which the future is predicted and planned for, just as children are regarded as the future of a nation. Following these, the children of today, are encouraged and nurtured towards an effective brighter future; as this would not only ensure that they emerge as patriotic leaders of tomorrow, but also make them the exemplary models for the futures yet unborn. However, the ongoing trafficking in persons, especially among the children is an awful development jeopardizing our children’s future and cumulating fear and hostility in the minds of the parents and the society at large.
Trafficking as defined by TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) enacted by the United States, is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force or fraud for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. Trafficking in persons or human trafficking have over the past 15 years, been used as umbrella terms for evils involved when one person forcefully holds another in compelled service, which come in various ways.
In Nigeria, the most common forms of trafficking include child and adult sex trafficking, forced labor, involuntary domestic servitude. A child may be forced to hawk to sponsor him/herself by hateful step mothers or even family members and he may even be traded by his parents to close a debt, usually a period of time is given for the service, in most cases, it’s a long time in servitude. Underage victims are often forced by the traffickers to claim they are adults who willingly involved in prostitution. Also, a domestic servant may be sexually abused by the master or mistress and is helpless to wriggle out of the situation. More people are trafficked for forced labor than for commercial sex which can occur without movement across borders or domestically, but many countries still assume some movement is required.
The United Nations adopted the paradigm, 3Ps, to kill the trade which means to Prevent, Prosecute and Protect. Kudos goes to Nigeria for in the year 2005, the penalty was increased, with offenders serving up till 10 years imprisonment. NAPTIP reported last year 149 investigations, 26 prosecutions, and 25 convictions of trafficking offenses. Also, the trafficking victims were protected. Although, despite the efforts of Government to abolish the trade, they unknowingly deport trafficking victims and fail to provide victims shelter and reintegration services which can lead to the delaying of victim’s rehabilitation. It is not enough to prosecute traffickers if we do not also provide assistance to the survivors and work to ensure that no one else is victimized.
Consequently, there have been programs designed to educate, enlighten and immune Nigerians against human trafficking.
There is a need to increase investigation on traffickers and even government officials who are suspected of trafficking related acts where appropriate, should be investigated and prosecuted. Rehabilitation through vocational training should be provided to victims at government shelters provided for them, money and other assets confiscated from trafficking offenders should be given to victims through trust fund. Conclusively, we all are encouraged to create awareness wherever we find out that trafficking in persons occur, if possible, we should report to relevant agencies. Fighting human trafficking is not a stagnant exercise meaning that a trafficking law that is passed this year should be implemented and improved the next year and the experiences learnt in the process of seizing offenders can also be used in law enforcement response. Nigeria has been counted as a source, transit, and designated country for women and children subjected to the menace, hence, the need for urgent response toward a world in which every man, woman, and child is safe from the hands of traffickers and can realize their God-given potential by lifting these victims from slavery to freedom.