Domestic violence and human trafficking are dire issues of great importance that deserve their own individual recognition. However, by acknowledging the interception of domestic violence and human trafficking, we can help ensure that victims are recognised and connected to the resources they need to get the help they deserve. BLESSING BATURE writes.
The rising trend of domestic violence and human trafficking in Nigeria has become challenging despite the efforts to curb the menace. With an estimated 20.9 million victims worldwide, human trafficking is considered “one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time.” Human trafficking involves a trafficker using “force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labour services against their will, and while it’s common for trafficking to include multiple perpetrators rather than a single abuser, sometimes the trafficker is a person the victim loved and trusted.
It is important to recognise that human trafficking and domestic violence don’t occur in silos – rather, there is a marked overlap in the pattern of behaviours that both abusers and traffickers use to exert power and control over a victim. Intimate partner trafficking occurs when an abuser “[compels] his/her partner to engage in commercial sex, forced labour, or involuntary servitude.” Alternatively, trafficked individuals sometimes live with their trafficker and are subjected to the physical violence, emotional manipulation, and overbearing control that are hallmarks of domestic violence.
Physical abuse is a mechanism of exerting power and control over another person, but both domestic violence abusers and human traffickers use subtle tactics that make it possible for abusers/traffickers to exert control over a victim without raising a fist. Abusers and traffickers isolate victims, allowing abusers to re-define a victim’s reality, making them feel as though there’s no one to turn to and no means of escape. Victims who lack legal documentation are often threatened with deportation if they refuse to comply with an abuser/trafficker’s demands and might fear interaction with law enforcement because of the possibility of being deported. Frequently, victims are denied access to money and lack the financial resources necessary to leave an abuser/trafficker. In another effort to control, abusers/traffickers would impregnate a victim or claim her existing children as their own so they can use the threat of violence or separation as another tool to manipulate a victim into compliance.
Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world, including here in Nigeria. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labour or services against their will, while more research is needed on the scope of human trafficking.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking, globally.
In an effort to curb the menace, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has yet again paraded four suspects allegedly involved in cases bordering on trafficking in persons, buying of human beings, rape and violence against persons.
The director general, NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, who represented the director, Investigation and Monitoring, Josiah Emerole on Tuesday, said one of the cases presented involved a 43-year-old woman who lived in Sweden, Stephany Isaksson Bassey, who was alleged to have bought a two-month-old baby boy.
Another suspect, Ifeoma Obinwa, 37, was alleged to have, on September 12, inflicted grievous body injuries on her 14-year-old house help.
“The victim, who has lived with the suspect since 2015, was not enrolled into school and is always being physically and emotionally abused; she is always beaten by the suspect with sticks, wire and sharp objects and such treatment has left wounds and scars all over her body including her head.
“The last incident that led to the suspect’s arrest happened on September 12, 2018 when the suspect, who accused the victim of beating her child, allegedly placed a knife on fire until it became very hot and then placed it on the victim’s thigh and buttocks, thereby leaving her with grievous body injuries.
“The victim was also left untreated until operatives of the Agency rescued her,” Emerole said.
Obinwa said she beat the victim because each time she returned from work, she always met her five-year-old daughter with different injuries on her body inflicted on her by the victim.
Also, a 37-year-old man, Francis Yusuf, was alleged to have raped his wife’s cousin who lived with them in their Jikwoyi residence on September 13.
“He subsequently locked the girl inside the house and left with the keys of the house. The victim, who claimed to have been a virgin until that incident, had to escape from the house through the window. The wife was away when the incident occurred,” Emerole said.
He added that one Sandra Obiosio, 29, an indigene of Rivers State, who resided at Jabi Area of Abuja, was also arrested for conspiring with her husband to procure a 12-year-old girl from Nasarawa State in 2017 as house help and allegedly subjecting the girl to all manner of abuse and ill treatment.
The DG said all the cases are contrary to various sections of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 (TIPPEA) and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 (VAPPA), adding that “As soon as investigations are over on these cases, the suspects would be charged to court.”
Thee National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has, so far, rescued 12,939 victims across the country since its establishment in 2003.
The head of Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Mrs Stella Nezan, said in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, that NAPTIP Director General, Ms Julie Okah-Donli, released the figure.
Okah-Donli, who said that the figure was as at June 2018, made the revelation in a paper titled, “Mass Exodus of Youths and National Development: A Case of Nigeria – Libya – Europe Migration Trend.”
The paper was presented at the 16th Ika Ka Mma Annual Lecture organised by the Onu Ika Socio-Cultural organisation, an umbrella organisation for the Ika nationalities of Delta.
She noted that out of the number, 822 were from Delta, with many from Ika community. “This figure comprises of 84 from Ika South and 48 from Ika North East. From NAPTIP’s record, Ika South has the highest number of rescued victims in Delta state, followed by Ugheli North.
“The third in the list is Ethiope East and Ika North East is in the fourth position and the most affected communities include; Agbor, Umunede, Abavo, Ozanogogo, Owa-Oyibu, among others.
“At the end of July 2018, the number of victims rescued from Delta State alone rose to 831 from 822, with the addition of nine more victims recorded as at June 2018,” she disclosed.
The NAPTIP DG described human trafficking as a component of terrorism, and a major threat to good governance and rapid economic recovery of any nation.
According to her, human traffickers should be treated as enemies of the state, while the phenomenon should be tackled same way as the current fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
Okah-Donli stated that the event was part of the agency’s strategic partnership with stakeholders to enlighten people across the six political zones on dangers of human trafficking, child labour and irregular migration among others and to reduce the human casualties that have characterised the ugly development.
Okah–Donli said victims of human trafficking are being used for nefarious purposes including activities that pose threat to national security. “Nigerian government over the years and particularly, under the current administration, holds a unique philosophy for National Security which is to establish a safe and secure environment.
The DG identified illegal border crossing, document forgery, abuse of human right, kidnapping, money laundering, drugs and weapons trafficking and violence against persons, as offshoots of human trafficking.
Okah-Donli added that Delta is ranked third after Edo and Kano with highest number of trafficked victims in the country.
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