Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Influences of Global Human Trafficking Issues on Nigeria: A Gender Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Influences of Global Human Trafficking Issues on Nigeria: A Gender Perspective

Article excerpt

This paper focuses on the socio-economic conditions that force women and girls into the human trafficking industry. Poverty is shown to be one of the major root causes of this phenomenon. The relationship between poverty and other socio-economic issues such as crime, corruption, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS are discussed. The government's efforts at tackling these problems are analyzed, and further preventive measures also discussed.

Keywords: Human trafficking, poverty, crime, HIV/AIDS

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The use of women in international prostitution and trafficking networks has unfortunately become a major focus of international, organized crime which often recruits thousands if not millions of women by false pretenses or coercion, transports them to another location, and then buys and sell them for a range of exploitative purposes. It is estimated that more than 700,000 to 2 million women and girls are trafficked around the world, every year (Lora Jo Foo, The Ford Foundation, 20 June 2002; Waliur Rahman, BBC News, 4 March 2003). Approximately 50,000 of those trafficked are taken to the United States (Agbu 2003). A conservative account of people trafficked to other parts of the globe, especially western Europe, the Middle East, Japan, North America and Australia in the year 2000 included 250,000 persons from southeast Asia; 150,000 from south Asia, 100,000 each from the former Soviet Union and Latin America; 75,000 from eastern Europe, and another 50,000 from Africa (Agbu (2003). Of these numbers, women and girls are the key target group because of their unequal socioeconomic status and their lack of awareness of their legal rights. These vulnerabilities are coupled with other interconnected factors such as:

* Development policies promoting tourism, patterns of development that depends on temporary migrant workers, particularly males

* An expanding commercial sex industry with high monetary returns attractive to crime syndicates

* Globalization and economic liberalization policies that result in relaxed controls and opened borders between countries which facilitate population mobility, and

* Weak law enforcement mechanisms and measures to penalize offenders, exploitation by corrupt law enforcers and officials (UNIFEM Fact Sheet No. 2, 2001).

Despite the fact that sexual exploitation or prostitution is not a new phenomenon, the scope of this problem is increasingly getting a lot more press coverage and the public is becoming more aware of its nature. Prostitution often involves money transaction or the exchange of valuable gifts such as apartment, jewelry, etc (Jennifer Friedlin, Women's Enews, 16 April 2004). The fact is, however, that not all women are trafficked for prostitution. They are trafficked for other reasons such as domestic servitude, illegal and bonded labor, false adoption, organ harvesting, and other criminal activities (Leidholdt 2004; HumanTrafficking.com). It was not until the earlier part of the last century that international laws to tackle this problem were drafted and ratified. These laws, however, focused solely on prostitution. The definition of trafficking and the exploitation and prostitution of others were clearly spelt out in articles 1 and 2 of the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. This Convention refers to actions at both the national and international levels, and states among other things, that "prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community." Since then, the concept of trafficking has been extended to include trafficking for the purpose of other forms of exploitation of women. This wider view of trafficking is reflected in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which also includes forced marriages and forced labor within the concept (United Nations Development Fund for Women [UNIFEM] Fact Sheet No. …

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