Nigeria is a source, transit point and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons in which they are subjected to forced labour and prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders.

Women and girls are for voluntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation while boys are for forced labour in street vending, domestic servitude, mining and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries like Ghana, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Gambia for the same purposes.

According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Nigeria is one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. Human trafficking is a way to exploit women and children for cheap labour and prostitution to help themselves out of poverty.

Human trafficking always occurs within Nigerian borders, in neighbouring countries and many European countries as well because they are able to ship women and children for human trafficking to expand the market or the industry. Human trafficking gangs Nigerian have sent thousands of women into the sex market within Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Research shows that about 10,000 Nigerian prostitutes in Italy are subjected to human trafficking.

Human trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy began in the 1980s because of the demand for low skilled labour in agriculture and services. Nigeria has a history of hearing financial issues causing significant unemployment and poverty. Given the underground nature of trafficking, its consequences are hidden and difficult to see.

Trafficked persons often do not have unlimited access to basic necessities such as safety, food, sleep, hygiene and medical care. The effects of trafficking vary depending on the type of trafficking and specific situation. Given that trafficking is based on the exploitation of individuals, all victims of trafficking may be subject to physical, psychological and social impacts.

Victims of trafficking often experience harsh physical impact due to excessive work or the use of force by traffickers. Victims may be exposed to health risks like HIV/AIDS as well as a serious mental health risk. Anxiety, insecurity, fear and trauma are all products of trafficking. Research indicates a high level of Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) in formerly trafficked persons which can also lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression and even suicide.

Trafficked minors are all the more vulnerable due to their age. It may greatly impact children’s emotional, physical and overall psychological development.

Trafficked persons may also experience social ostracism and often isolated from their social circles, leaving individuals unable to engage socially or reach out for help. Victims may also be trafficked internationally and, therefore, may not be able to engage due to a lack of linguistic capability or geographic and cultural familiarity.

Sex trafficking has some consequences for victims and society. It affects women and girls in reported cases. Despite law protecting them, victims of trafficking are often criminalized; this exacerbates the physical and psychological trauma they experience and causes economic harm that limits their ability to break free from their traffickers and rebuild their lives.

Human Trafficking is seen as an endless cycle with a global economic crisis on the horizon as the demand for cheap labour is on the rise. People looking for jobs far away from home are often deceived. This places the poor at a higher risk of being trafficked, as victims of human trafficking are often poor and illiterate.

Sex and human trafficking could be curbed through learning the indicators of human trafficking to help identify a potential trafficking victim. Human trafficking awareness training should be made available to individuals, businesses, law employees, among others.

One should be able to report suspected traffickers to law enforcement agents. Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community. The government should endeavour to create employment for Nigerian citizens several of whom are unemployed and have no livelihood.

Skills acquisition should be organized in every State to enable youths to learn at least a trade. Nigerian borders should be properly guarded while other agencies should be set up to arrest human traffickers in order to reduce the rate of trafficking in the country. The media have a role to play in shaping perceptions and guiding the public conversation about human trafficking.

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