Causes, Children Rights, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa

How strong family ties play a role in sex trafficking in Nigeria

Discussions about human trafficking between Africa and Europe are frequently blurred by generalisations about villainous traffickers and their naïve young victims who have been misled into prostitution.

But the world of sex trafficking is far more complex.

For example, several studies have shown that Nigerian sex trafficking rings are dominated by women, known as madams, and use of black magic rituals, known as juju, to keep their victims captivated.

But little or no work has been done on other important dynamics.

Two in particular are important.

The first is the active role that extended families play in helping women secure work in Europe.

The second is the fact that women themselves are nowadays increasingly aware of the work that awaits them, even though they cannot imagine how brutal and miserable it actually is.

The lack of research has resulted in an incomplete understanding of the much more complex reality of the circumstances under which victims fall into the hands of traffickers.

This has also compromised the effectiveness of prevention and rehabilitation projects in Nigeria, which seldom take into account the involvement of family members.

As part of my doctoral research I recently conducted interviews in rural communities outside Benin City, the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria.

Recruitment of women for work in Europe is rife in the area.

Many of the young women I interviewed knew that prostitution lay behind vague offers for work as hairdressers, cashiers or domestic workers in Europe.

Nevertheless, out of desperation, some are prepared to take up the offers driven by the need to provide a better life for their families.

In rural Nigeria, widespread emigration aspirations are often fuelled by the high levels of joblessness, corruption, poor infrastructure and family struggles to make ends meet.

My interviews with communities members and NGO representatives indicate that many young Nigerians see the opportunity of finding work abroad as their best, if not their only, means to a better future for themselves and their families.

The dire economic situations which their families face, combined with a sense of obligation, is an important factor in the decision making process.

Added to this complexity is the fact that extended family members often act as the link between human trafficking syndicates and their victims.

Source: How strong family ties play a role in sex trafficking in Nigeria | News24

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