Two hundred years after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the trafficking of African children continues unabated. This is one of the most horrific violations of a child’s right. Trafficking can be defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation”. Reasons for trafficking children include: sexual exploitation, forced labour and/or slavery, domestic servitude, forced marriages, illegal adoptions, and even forced organ removal or human sacrifice.
Nigeria acts as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking children to Europe, the Middle East and other countries throughout Africa. UNICEF has estimated that over 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked each year. The highest rates of child trafficking in Nigeria are found in the Niger Delta region, according to research by NAPTIP, the Nigerian Anti-Trafficking Agency.
Children become vulnerable to being trafficked for a number of reasons, with the root causes being poverty and lack of opportunities, corruption and instability and/or armed conflict. Their parents may pay for them to be taken to another country, in the hope that they will gain employment and a better life abroad. Alternatively, children may be sold to traffickers by their parents, or kidnapped by such groups. Street children are particularly susceptible to becoming trafficking victims, as are children who suffer from other forms of discrimination. In the Niger Delta, children who have been stigmatised as ‘witches’ are extremely at risk as they are usually rejected by their families and communities, and often live on the streets with no-one to care for them.
As one of the few agencies working within Nigeria on this issue, Stepping Stones Nigeria is committed to doing everything in our power to develop a deeper understanding of this complex issue and support the key agencies on the ground in the Niger Delta who are working to prevent the trafficking of innocent children.
More information on child trafficking:
To find out what Stepping Stones Nigeria is doing to help put a stop to the trafficking of innocent and vulnerable children in Nigeria, click here.