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Human trafficking in Nigeria has been one of the greatest problem in Nigerian history. Human trafficking can be traced to the period colonialism when human beings are been traded for mere commodities to the Europeans, to help them in their plantations in their own country. Due to the abolishment of slave trade in Nigeria by 1885-1950, the act of human trafficking was reduced and some few years later they started child trafficking since the children are more vulnerable. Child trafficking is a form of human trafficking that involves the transportation, harbouring, receiving ,recruitment of children in the purpose of exploitation.
The issue of child domestic labour is very complex and problematic. Domestic child labourers are among the most invisible child labourers. The number of children exploited in private households is unknown because of the hidden nature of the work. Many of these children are girls and in many countries domestic service is seen as the only employment option a girl might have. Children exploited in domestic service are paid little or nothing, are malnourished, are very vulnerable to further abuse and exploitation, and do not go to school. However, because child domestic workers are employed within an informal family environment, they cannot be integrated as a professional group within conventional working systems because such integration would presuppose an acceptance of the idea of child domestic labour. At the same time, without legal initiatives, it is difficult to combat child domestic labour. Furthermore, the terms, norms and standards to regulate the employment of children are lacking because children work in a largely invisible domain outside law and the public sphere and their domestic labour cannot be integrated under normal labour laws. Although the final goal of all laws should be the prevention and elimination of child domestic labour, it is acknowledged right at the outset that this is a long term goal. In the interim, there is a need to accept that children do, and will continue, to work until effective alternatives make it unnecessary for them to work. In the meantime, the “best interest” of the child principle together with the notion of the child as a “rights holder” should guide any lawmaking on child domestic work. Law and policy reform can play a powerful constitutive and transformative role in improving and changing the lives of both the girl child and male child domestic worker; however, in envisioning workplace and domestic arrangements it is important to see that sex stereotypes are not reinforced. Just as much as law has the profound power to prevent and regulate domestic labour, it has the power to reinforce it by creating loopholes through which employers can continue to hire child domestic workers. Laws can often spark social change only if they are translated into action. In drafting new laws or revising existing laws, child domestic labour should be seen in the context of historic sex discrimination. There is an apparent tension when laws and policies are blind to the differences between the girl child domestic worker and the male child domestic worker such as the girl child’s weak bargaining position and low status, which increases her vulnerability to coercion by her family and employer.
Child trafficking in Nigeria is something the government has not really put enough effort to ensure that child trafficking is reduced or eradicated this is due to the lapse (corruption) of the whole government system because most of the child traffickers are top government officials and this makes it very difficult to investigate any problem that has to do with child trafficking. According to a research carried out by “United nation children fund (unicef)” say the average age of children been trafficked in Nigeria is around 15years but the age varies, especially with girls and also it says 60-80% of girls in the sex trade outside the country are in Italy (over 700 in Italy while Belgium and Holland is experiencing an upsurge in the number of Nigerian girls. On the average About 10 children pass Nigerian borders daily originating from fostering and extended family system. Children that are been trafficked has so many reasons which include domestic help, prostitution these are especially for girls while boys are used as scavengers, car washing, bus conducting, drug peddling and farming.
Child trafficking has so many effects on both the child and the country. Trafficking of migrant children has unquestionably affected individual children and their communities in various immediate and long term ways. It sometimes endangers the children’s lives. The obvious impacts of child trafficking often mentioned is on deteriorating their education, physical and mental development. Moreover, the trafficked migrant children are disempowered in many ways. They are in the foreign country with foreign customs and foreign language. They are transported and sold or deceived as bonded labour, treated like property, and work under slavery-like conditions. Whenever they feel depressed, or suffering, or face difficulties, or are tortured, commonly they have no one they can turn to as they tend to live in isolated areas. Even if they have a chance to seek help, they often do not know where to go or what to do or whom to ask because they are illegal migrants and are afraid of police. In some circumstances, they may encounter racism from the police, authorities, and general people among whom may be their own employers. A major result of child trafficking can be loss of lives, increasing prevalence of STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) including HIV/AIDS, increase in violence and crime rate, increased school drop-out, impaired child development, poor national image and massive deportation of Nigerians especially girls. And also, There are diverse reasons why many Nigerian children are vulnerable to trafficking, including widespread poverty, large family size, rapid urbanization with deteriorating public services, low literacy levels and high school-drop out rates
The demand for cheap commercial sex workers in countries of destination strongly contributes to the growth of this phenomenon and the success of this criminal network.
Parents with a large family, often overburdened with the care of too many children, are prone to the traffickers deceit in giving away some of their children to city residents or even strangers promising a better life for them.
Traffickers exploit the trust of people rooted in a widespread, culturally accepted common practice in West Africa of placement and fostering as part of the extended family
safety net. In some instances, desperately poor and uninformed parents willingly co-operate with the traffickers, giving away their children in exchange for a small fee. In the
hands of unscrupulous guardians, these children are increasingly trafficked and exploited for money.
But All hope is not lost as every problem has a solution. The government can still curb this evil practice in order to save children and the good name of the country. Firstly, government should provide free education in every government owned school in the country from the nursery to the secondary level so that parents will have no excuse of giving out their children to strangers in the pretext of taking them to learn new sill in new environment.
Secondly, government should pay workers salaries at the end of each month because they have personal bills to foot; children to cater for and they depend solely on their salaries.
Thirdly, the parliamentary arm of the government should make and amend law that all Nigerian families should not have more than 3 children and any found to go against the law would be punished because one of the causes of child trafficking in Nigeria is the inability of parents to cater for so many children.
Also, government should make laws for children against child abuse and intimidation which should be strictly adhered to.
Last but not the least, government should come to an agreement with leaders of other countries that any Nigerian child suspected to be abused or trafficked should be rescued and the trafficker, punished.
In an effort aimed at battling child trafficking within Nigeria and the sub-region, Nigeria and the government of Benin Republic have signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate in the area of prevention of child trafficking as well as the repatriation of offenders to countries of origin for prosecution.
Executive Secretary of National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters(NAPTIP), Mrs. Carol Ndaguba disclosed this at a one-day workshop on Anti Child Trafficking Network Project in Nigeria held at the UN House Abuja.
According to her, Nigeria and the government of Italy, United Kingdom and Spain also have understandings on joint initiative on modalities for prevention of child trafficking and slavery, adding that the Italian government as well as UNICEF have been providing huge financial and capacity building support to the agency in carrying out its task.
On the issue of house-help or domestic servants in the country, NAPTIP Executive Secretary regretted that the phenomenon had been exploited by traffickers to batter, sexually or emotionally traumatize victims, adding that “the so called syndrome must now come to an end.”
She identified the challenges faced by the network project to include expansion of the network from 22 states to 36, sustaining awareness campaign at the state and community levels, and capacity building of the state working groups.
In her remark, Deputy Country Representative of UNICEF, Barbara Reynold said that although the anti-trafficking agency was already doing a lot to put an end to the menace of human trafficking, more needs to be done in the area of conscientisation and increased awareness by a broader section of society.
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