Human trafficking is when a person is exploited by someone for a gain. It includes prostitution, forced labour, slavery, removal of organs, becoming a child bride or a child soldier. Human trafficking happens in every country across the world and is especially bad in Africa.
THE CAUSES OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Poverty and inequality are the main causes of trafficking. Similarly to how there is demand for cheap goods, there is also demand for cheap labour. Views that women are objects of sex and are worth less than men, drives the supply and demand of sex trafficking. Both men and women can become traffickers and can be driven to do so because they cannot earn a living otherwise. Human trafficking ruins many people’s lives. Profit should never be placed above someone’s life.
WHO CAN BE TRAFFICKED AND HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
Anyone can be trafficked! Men who are trafficked are often forced to do manual labour. This could mean working on a farm for very little money with physical punishment if they try and leave. Inside Africa it can be common for women and children to be sold as ‘wives’, or for children to be sold for ritual sacrifice. It is also common for women to be taken to European countries and sold for sex. Methods used to trick people include:
- The promise of a better life abroad, a job or an education.
- For a man to pretend to be a girl’s lover and convincing her to start a new life in another country. This is called the ‘lover boy’ technique and can be very convincing.
- By kidnapping, especially in children.
- Convincing parents that they can give a better life to a child, or by offering them money for the child.
- Helping others enter a country for a fee. Smugglers are often traffickers in disguise that will sell people to gangs.
Once trapped, traffickers will often use physical or emotional violence to stop victims escaping. A common method seen in Africa is using Juju black magic rituals to frighten people.
There was a girl from Nigeria who was promised a hairdressing job in Europe by a priest in her community. In return for his help, he asked that she pay back the cost of getting her there, once she was earning money in England. The priest said that in order to believe that she would keep her promise to pay him back, she needed to do a juju ritual. Once in Europe, her passport was taken and she was forced into prostitution to pay back thousands of euros. She was scared to run away and ask for help because she was frightened of the juju spell. The ‘juju doctor’ was not real, he was a friend of the priest who was part of the scam.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR TO NOT GET TRAFFICKED
Be wary of anyone who offers you a better life, such as a job or an education in another country. If possible, try and check what they are promising you with someone in the country already and NEVER hand over your passport to anyone to keep. Traffickers often target those who are uneducated, living in poverty and unaware of human trafficking.