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Human Trafficking: The Emmanuel Osemota Foundation’s Fight to Combat this Horrendous Act

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Very few things in life are as heinous as the act of trading humans for forced labor, sexual slavery and exploitation, extraction of organs, etc. all of which and many more fall under the umbrella that is human trafficking.

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According to the article, Human Trafficking, there are six different types of human trafficking: forced labor, sex trafficking, organ trafficking, child soldier, child marriage, and debt bondage. 

 

According to the ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)forced or compulsory labor is all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.

 

Now there are certain conditions where forced labor is seen as acceptable by the ILO forced labor convention such as when it constitutes compulsory military service, normal civic obligations, prison labor and only under certain conditions, work in an emergency, and minor communal services. 

 

However, in all other situations, forced labor is a serious violation of human rights and a criminal offense. It can be argued that even the conditions where forced labor is acceptable, it is still a violation of human rights. 

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Forced labor usually includes restrictions on workers’ freedom of movement, withholding of wages or identity documents, threats and intimidation, or fraudulent debt from which workers cannot escape. The reality is that forced labor is modern-day slavery. 

 

As of 2012, the ILO estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor at any point in time meaning there are about three in every 1,000 of today’s world population. 

 

Of these, 90 percent are exploited by private individuals and enterprises, while 10 percent are forced to work by the state, by rebel military groups, or in prisons under conditions that violate fundamental ILO standards. 

 

Sadly, migration internally and across borders, low levels of literacy and education, and poverty facilitates forced labor.  

Sex trafficking is defined by the CDC as when a trafficker exploits an individual with force, fraud, or coercion to make them perform commercial sex or work. 

 

Sex trafficking is defined by the  Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to make an adult engage in commercial sex acts. 

 

However, any commercial sexual activity with a minor, even without force, fraud, or coercion, is considered trafficking. This too is modern-day slavery. Sex traffickers usually target poor and vulnerable people, migrants, those without strong family ties, etc.

 

The majority of victims are usually women and girls, although men and boys are affected. Most sex-trafficked victims are controlled through assault, threats, false promises, perceived sense of protection, isolation, shaming, and debt. 

Organ trafficking is a form of human trafficking that needs more light shone upon it because it has little attention paid to it. More attention is generally paid to sex trafficking and forced labor. Organ trafficking is however a serious issue. 

 

One that leaves its victims not just psychologically bereft but medically at risk as well. There seems to be little verified information about this form of human trafficking. 

 

It is largely an underground crime although channels like BBC News and CNN have covered this issue with smaller outlets also turning attention to this form of human trafficking. Although it is not given as much attention as other forms, it is just as lucrative. 

 

According to the article, Organ Trafficking: The Unseen Form of Human Trafficking, organ trafficking has become a crucial trade for transnational organized crime groups because of its high demands and the fact that there are low rates of law enforcement for this crime.

 

The article notes that organ trafficking leaves a destructive medical footprint as well as makes vulnerable populations (donors) and first world beneficiaries (recipients) open to severe exploitation and a lifetime of damaging health consequences. 

 

This article cites statistics from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) which estimates that 10 percent of all organ transplants including lungs, heart, and liver, are done via trafficked organs as well as from the World Health Organization (WHO) which estimates that 10,000 kidneys are traded on the black market worldwide annually, or more than one every hour.

 

Another very inhumane form of human trafficking is the use of child soldiers. The article, 11 FACTS ABOUT CHILD SOLDIERS, defines child soldiers as ‘any children under the age of 18 who are recruited by a state or non-state armed group and used as fighters, cooks, suicide bombers, human shields, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes.’ 

Sadly, most children recruited as child soldiers are under the age of 10, and girls making up an estimated 10 to 30% of child soldiers with them being especially vulnerable to sexual violence.  

 

These children are forced to carry out heinous acts, becoming killers at tender ages and often drugged against their will to make them more cooperative in carrying out these heinous acts. 

 

The article, 11 FACTS ABOUT CHILD SOLDIERS, lists Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen as having continued use of child soldiers since 2011. A great deal of documentaries has been made covering this subject.  

According to Unicef.org, child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult. According to Unicef.org, one in five girls are expected to be child brides, a statistic that is still high. 

 

This treatment of young girls is viewed as separate from human trafficking but in reality, it is a form of trafficking. While child marriage has decreased, it is still a prevalent form of human trafficking. 

 

While boys can sometimes be child grooms, this form of human trafficking disproportionately affects girls more and is rooted in gender inequality. It robs girls of their childhood, destabilizes their lives and health. 

 

Unicef.org states that girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to remain in school. They have worse economic and health outcomes than their unmarried peers, which are eventually passed down to their own children, further straining a country’s capacity to provide quality health and education services.

debt servitude is a situation where a person is promised and enforced to undertake labour in order to repay a debt incurred usually by someone else

The site also states that child brides often become pregnant during adolescence, when the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth increases – for themselves and their infants and that the practice can also isolate girls from family and friends and excludes them from participating in their communities.

 

Taking a heavy toll on their physical and psychological well-being. 

 

Child marriage perpetuates the exploitation of health, rights, and body of adolescent girls who often have no say in the marital arrangements made for them and are forced to partake in such arrangements. When child brides become pregnant, they are usually at high risk of maternal and child mortality. 

 

Debt bondage also called debt slavery or debt servitude is a situation where a person is promised and enforced to undertake labor in order to repay a debt incurred usually by someone else. It is also a situation where a human being is used as some form of collateral to incur a debt where freedom is only guaranteed upon payment of the debt incurred. 

In both situations, the common themes are force and an absence of freedom. The laborer usually has power over the servant and denies them common rights and privileges. In essence, this can be termed modern-day slavery. 

 

The article What is Debt Bondage? defines debt bondage as a means by which traffickers exploit people and trap them in human trafficking. 

 

The article describes how traffickers often ensure that a debt is never repaid by adding to that debt any living costs incurred by the person serving the terms of the debt bondage, and so in the end the trafficked victim is never able to gain freedom. Sadly, debt bondage can be passed down from generation to generation. 

The article, NIGERIA: HUMAN TRAFFICKING FACTSHEET estimates that human trafficking is a one hundred- and fifty-billion-dollar industry with two-thirds of this amount being generated from sex trafficking with the smuggling route from East, North, and West Africa raking in a sum of one hundred- and fifty million dollars annually.

 

The article estimates that there are at least 40.3 million victims of modern-day slavery with the larger percentage being women and girls as well as children. 

 

Reportedly, according to the article, e number of children in slavery at almost 1/3 of all global victims.) 99% of the 4.8 million victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2016 were women and girls, with one in five being children (ILO, 2017). 

Trafficked victims…come from migrants fleeing the country through dangerous routes often becoming slaves before even reaching their desired destination

Women and girls represented 84% of the 15.4 million people in forced marriages, and 59% of those in private forced labor with human trafficking being most prevalent in Africa. And Nigeria is a point of supply, transit location as well as a terminal for human trafficking.

 

The Global Slavery Index in 2018 reported that Nigeria ranked 32nd out of 167 countries with the highest number of slaves. 

 

In Nigeria, the average age of a trafficked victim is 15. Victims of trafficking are usually trafficked within the country as well as overseas with a high number of exported victims being trafficked to Europe. 

 

Trafficked victims from Nigeria usually come from migrants fleeing the country through dangerous routes often becoming slaves before even reaching their desired destination and sometimes upon reaching their desired destinations. 

 

Edo state according to CNN is the most trafficked destination in Africa. According to IOM, in July 2018, over 60,000 Nigerians remained trapped in Libya, with 50% of them hailing from Edo State.  

NAPTIP, in its 2019 Report, confirms that the largest number of victims rescued outside of Nigeria were rescued from Mali and Niger and are from Edo State, followed by Imo State. 

NIGERIA: HUMAN TRAFFICKING FACTSHEET cites the following statistics:

  • According to IOM, approximately 11,000 women arrived via the Mediterranean Sea into Italy in 2016, again mostly from Edo. IOM estimates that 80% of these young women arriving from Nigeria – whose numbers have soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 – will likely be forced into prostitution as sex trafficking victims. Supra
  • (According to Italian authorities, there are between 10,000 to 30,000 Nigerian women working in prostitution on the streets of Italy.) 
  • 90% of migrant women arriving into Italy from Libya arrive with bruises and other signs of violence
  • (In general, 83.5% of all Nigerians interviewed in 2017 reported to have suffered from physical violence of any kind during the journey, most often in Libya
  • A more recent December 2018 UN Report notes narratives by Nigerian migrants of unlawful killings, gang rape, prostitution, arbitrary detention, torture and inhumane treatment, unpaid wages, slavery, human trafficking, racism, and xenophobia in Libya.) 
  • In 2017, a total of 18,000 Nigerian migrants were recorded to have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean, 5,400 of which were women (UNHCR, 2018). It is noteworthy that between 2014-2016, IOM recorded an almost 600% increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean
  • According to IOM, an astounding 94% of all Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution hail from Edo State, with Italy being the number one destination country
  • Although prostitution remains the largest category for Nigerian female trafficking victims who travel abroad, child labor is certainly another, with children engaged in domestic labor, forced begging, quarrying gravel, and armed conflict

The article also states that the general factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking in Nigeria include extreme poverty, corruption, conflict, climate change/resulting migration, and western consumerism. 

Other factors also include parental pressure, eroded mindset/values, cultural acceptance of prostitution, limited education, and economic opportunities. 

To eliminate human trafficking or reduce it to its barest minimum, these factors need to be addressed. 

People have to be provided legitimate ways of being uplifted out of poverty by the creation of opportunities both economic and educational. 

Education should be made a right for citizens and there need to be campaigns of awareness in communities about the often-stark realities of migration especially illegal. People also need to be made aware of how easy it can be to be a victim of trafficking. 

There needs to be a restructuring of values systems and behavior. More attention needs to be paid to human trafficking as a crime with offenders being given harsh sentences. Sadly, corruption, as well as weakened security forces in Nigeria, often hinders this

The Emmanuel Osemota Foundation is committed to playing its part in fighting this evil. The foundation places a high priority on poverty alleviation through microloan schemes which it provides to people with low economic opportunities in Nigeria, particularly Edo State. 

 

It also places a very high priority on the education of the girl child. They provide scholarships and educational supplies to persons who have demonstrated excellent academic potential. They also engage in advocacy and rehabilitation for victims of human trafficking.

 

The Emmanuel Osemota Foundation seeks to actively fight human trafficking. But they cannot do this alone. 

 

The EOF being a non-governmental organization and a not-for-profit organization relies on the donations made by foundation members and supporters. But that can only go a little way. 

 

Therefore the Emmanuel Osemota Foundation strongly appeals to the good conscience of members of the public for donations and is opened to partnering with governmental initiatives so that Edo state and Nigeria can be rid of this evil.

All in all, human trafficking is a terrible predicament that strips people of their freedoms, rights, and humanity; turns them into slaves, and subjects them to degrading and demeaning conditions. 

The Emmanuel Osemota Foundation is committed to playing its part in ensuring that no one has to be subject to the degrading and demeaning terror that is human trafficking. 

We hope you are too. So please donate by clicking here.

We Thank You for Your Donation!

Written by Amen Ahabue, creative writer for EOF

REFERENCES

11 FACTS ABOUT CHILD SOLDIERS. (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.dosomething.org/us

Child Marriage (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/protection/child-marriage

ILO, General Survey on the fundamental Conventions concerning rights at work in light of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization , Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, 2012, ILC.101/III/1B, para. 272.

NIGERIA: HUMAN TRAFFICKING FACTSHEET. September 2020. Retrieved from https://pathfindersji.org/nigeria-human-trafficking-factsheet/

Organ Trafficking: The Unseen Form of Human Trafficking. ACAMS TODAY, June 2018. Retrieved from Organ Trafficking: The Unseen Form of Human Trafficking – ACAMS Today

Peterson, M. (2018). 6 Types of Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://fighttoendexploitation.org/2018/12/28/6-types-of-human-trafficking/

Sex Trafficking. (n.d). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/trafficking.html

Wells, K (2019). The 2019 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act: A Topical Summary and Analysis of Four Bills. 

What is Debt Bondage? (2021) https://globaljustice.regent.edu/2021/01/what-is-debt-bondage/

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