Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram is right: There is a market for selling humans. Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of schoolgirls from the state of Borno in Nigeria, has brutishly underscored the most basic violation of human rights—human trafficking. The kidnapping has awakened the global public to the fact that slavery still exists. As the world focuses on Nigeria’s stolen girls, we must understand that girls, often starting at the age of 11, are kidnapped and sold every day and in every region of the world. Girls being sold like chattel is nothing new.
Unfortunately, victims often receive minimal sympathy from those in their communities due to lack of awareness and a lack of empathy due to patriarchal attitudes toward women in prostitution, which blame the victim for crimes committed. And in cases of labor and domestic servitude, many people mistake trafficking for migrant working or illegal immigration, and have little to no sympathy for victims. These views ignore the harm and abuse victims suffer.
Terry Fitzpatrick, communications director of a global anti-slavery nonprofit Free the Slaves, states that, in Nigeria, instability, graft, inequality, and inadequate awareness have aided and abetted human trafficking. However, poverty, above all, remains one of the main reasons for its ubiquitous foothold in the country. Over 70% of Nigerians live on less than one dollar per day, and traffickers use this to dangle false promises of employment and vocational training in front of girls to entice them into the arms of traffickers. Unfortunately, some parents are so desperate for alternative means of survival, that they actually encourage their children into the trade.
There are 21 to 30 million people around the world in forms of slavery today. Fitzpatrick, states, “We can’t solve a problem that big with rescues alone.” It is possible to fight human trafficking on a global scale, but first individual countries must “reduce the supply of vulnerable people into systems of slavery.”
Learn more at Keshar Patel’s World Policy Blog article: Boko Haram: Spotlight on Human Trafficking.