Sexual exploitation could be referred to as the abuse or unfair treatment of people (especially females) because of their sex. It is a situation where a person is considered for their sexual attraction, without taking into consideration their human dignity.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation therefore relates to the recruiting, harbouring, enticing, transporting, providing, obtaining or maintaining of a person for the purpose of sexual activities through the use of force, threat of force, fraud, coercion or a combination of these. All its victims have been damaged, bruised, dejected and rejected. In many cases, a human rights approach to avoid more violations of victims’ rights is completely lacking. Young people, predominantly women and girls (there are male victims as well), are trafficked internally within African borders and externally for the purpose of sexual exploitation, as the demand for using them as objects of sexual gratification for a price remains high. Unfortunately, trafficking for sexual exploitation has become a lucrative multi-national business in which almost every country is involved. In many parts of the world, human trafficking is a high-profit and low-risk endeavour for the traffickers.
According to the UNODC 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 53% of trafficked persons identified in 2011 globally were subjected to sexual exploitation, while 40% were subjected to forced labour.
In the 2009 report, 79% of total detected cases of human trafficking were recorded as victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. This decline may be related to increased information on the number of identified cases of trafficking for labour exploitation, and not necessarily to a drop in the number of victims being trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Information provided on the gender of traffickers indicate that women make up the largest proportion of traffickers in 30% of the 155 countries investigated. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm.
The majority of persons trafficked from Africa are either subjected to forced labour (49%) or sexual exploitation (36%). Most of these victims remained within their sub-regions, as domestic trafficking constitutes 76% of trafficked victims in sub-Saharan Africa. However, where transregional trafficking from sub-Saharan Africa occurs, the main destination areas are Western and Central Europe and the Middle East, with the flows of West African victims to Western Europe largely comprising women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Eurostat records that the majority of registered victims in the EU were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation (69% from 2010 to 2012). Trafficking for forced labour (19%) came second, followed by other forms of trafficking such as trafficking for the removal of organs, for criminal activities, or for the sale of children (12% altogether).
It should be noted, however, that many of the trafficked victims are undocumented, unidentified and unregistered, so in reality the number of victims is much higher.
Traffickers use several means to prevent victims from escaping. These may include physical restraint in the form of locks and guards, physical or psychological violence, drugging, or instilling a fear of the police, making the victims believe that they are the offenders.
In Nigeria these things take a form of their own. For instance, organ trafficking is not mainly about transplantation, it is about voodoo. Somehow a set of people believe that they could use human parts for certain rituals that would make them rich or invincible. So children, adult women and men are sometimes kidnapped and killed for body parts which are trafficked for ritual purposes.
Another manifestation is new-born child trafficking or what is called baby harvesting. Traffickers could set up fake ‘safe houses’ where girls with unwanted pregnancies live, give birth and give off their babies to childless couples. What they may not know is that the owners of the centre receive financial rewards for the transactions. This is clearly different than adoption. In some of the rings that have been uncovered by the police and reported in the media, some young women have taken it as a trade to get pregnant and sell off the babies afterwards.
Childless couples are a ready market for trafficked babies, as they go all out to look for babies. Some women go to the extent of pretending to be pregnant, preparatory to ‘acquiring’ (not adopting) a baby.
Some may pay between two to three thousand dollars for a baby, aided by quack clinics.
(Source: Caritas Internationalis. Norwegian Refugees Council, AAVV)