A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF OPINIONS AND PERCEPTIONS ON FACTORS AFFECTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN IMO STATE AND EDO STATES OF NIGERIA
The phenomenon of human trafficking which is the recruitment, harbouring, transportation or receipt of persons within national and international borders for the purpose of exploitation has been very prevalent in Nigeria.
Therefore, this study carried out a comparative examination of opinions and perceptions on factors affecting human trafficking in Imo and Edo states of Nigeria. A cross-sectional survey of one thousand, two hundred (1200) respondents was conducted in Oredo and Ikpoba-Okha of Edo state, and Ahiazu-Mbaise and Ehime-Mbano of Imo state. The main instrument for data collection was a uniform set of structured questionnaire schedule, administered by trained research assistants. This was supported by data from in-depth interview with purposively selected victims and individuals, and focus group discussions with victims, adult male, female and youth groups.
The analysis of the data showed that there was a high level of awareness of human trafficking in Edo and Imo states. In Edo state, the perception showed that there was higher level of women trafficking, while in Imo state, there was higher level of child trafficking. It was also established that the traffickers were mostly made up of close relatives and even parents. Indeed the study established that in most cases, there is a nexus between the trafficker and the victim. Also females were found to participate more as traffickers than males, hence there is a significant relationship(x2 = 89.429, df = 3, p<0.001) between the sex of traffickers male and female and human trafficking in both states.
The age group of persons with the most vulnerability of being trafficked were identified from the study as 15 – 24 years for women, while the age group of children with the most vulnerability of being trafficked were 6 – 15 years. Similar outcome was presented in both Imo and Edo states and it is also statistically significant (P<0.001). It was also found that unemployed and out of school personrs were identified as most likely victims of trafficking than employed and in school persons, (P<0.028). Also poverty was confirmed to be significantly related to human trafficking (P<0.0001). Another important factor that was found to be significantly related to human trafficking was families with large number of children (P<0.0001).
It was also established that most households in the area have high number of children which may be a positive factor to human trafficking, and this is supported by the culture and tradition of the people. In Edo state, it was found that the traditional system of inheritance propels women to give birth to as many men as possible which leads in most cases to large number of children without a functional mother figure. Also in Imo state, the cultural practice of ‘Ewu-Ukwu’ makes most women to give birth to ten children or more. Furthermore, fathers with no formal education, low income families, and mothers with no formal education, are most likely to give out their children to traffickers.
The victims were also found to go through some traditional rites of bondage to ensure obedience and loyalty to their exploiters, the traffickers. It was concluded that factors like large family size, unemployment, poverty, father with no formal education, mother with no formal education, poor households, and cultural disposition to high number of children are positively related to human trafficking. It was consequently recommended that aggressive awareness campaign should be embarked upon to educate families on the need for small number of children in households, that there should be provision of employment especially for the youths, free education for children, the establishment of effective and functional programmes to alleviate the poor conditions of the individuals and severe punishment for arrested traffickers.