As I have mentioned in previous posts, Boko Haram is a dangerous terrorist group in Nigeria that has kidnapped many young girls throughout the country. Unfortunately, many of these young girls end up being married off to Boko Haram members or sold into sex slavery. Nigeria has not ignored this problem, and in 2011 the U.S. State Department’s Office of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) gave the country the best rating possible for their efforts to combat human trafficking. Nigeria created the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), but the TIP has downgraded Nigeria’s ranking in recent years. According to The National Interest, this decrease in their ranking was due to “minimal increases in funding, failure to enact stricter penalties against traffickers, and the remaining difficulties of the national police to identify trafficking victims.”
On the other hand, the Nigerian government does provide funding to eight shelters for victims of human trafficking. Results from investigations into human trafficking have been mixed. Nigeria criminalized child trafficking with their 2003 Child Rights Act, but only 23 of the 36 states in Nigeria have ratified it. In 2012, the NAPTIP and the Nigerian National Police looked into 117 instances of trafficking and ended up convicting 25 traffickers.
Sadly, human trafficking is a lucrative business and Unicef estimates that it is more profitable than any other trade in West Africa with the exception of guns and drugs. Even worse, according to the BBC, about 40% of the hundreds of thousands of kids living on the street in Nigeria have been bought and sold at some point. The girls are more often sold into prostitution or domestic services and the boys are sold into hard labour like working on plantations or selling food for long hours in markets.
There’s an even darker side to human trafficking in Nigeria: the breeding of babies. According to Mail & Guardian, doctors would trick teenagers who had unwanted pregnancies by telling them that they could provide them with an abortion. Then, the doctors would lock the pregnant women inside a building until they gave birth and take their babies to sell on the black market. Some impoverished women even volunteered their bodies to breed and sell babies due to the deep poverty they faced. “In the Igbo society, the price to remain childless is too high,” said a clinical psychologist Peter Egbigbo. “Childless people want to pay any amount for a child and doctors become rich overnight.” Egbigbo said many who adopt a baby claim it’s their biological child and since the exchange is so common, many individuals don’t see anything wrong with the practice.
The Born Free article addressed some important points of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs place a higher emphasis on slavery, human rights, and human trafficking than the Millennium Development Goals. The SDGs target human trafficking in three out of their 17 goals. These goals include: to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” and to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
While I feel like these three goals are all really important, I feel like the third goal is probably the most important in terms of helping the most amount of people. “Justice for all” not only means justice in court, but it also means allowing all members of society to take part. This is important for gender equality, livable wages and more. If more money is provided for organizations of focus on human trafficking then hopefully this modern form of slavery will be eradicated.