The Curse of Familiar Faces and The Prevalence of Rural to Urban Recruitment for Human Trafficking
Keywords:Commercial Sexual Exploitation; Rural to Urban Recruitment for Trafficking; Trafficking and Women and Children; Familiar Faces and Trafficking in Nigeria; Recruitment Patterns and Detection
There is developing literature on the trafficking of women from West Africa for sexual exploitation in Europe. However, while a growing number of women and children are trafficked from rural to urban settings in Nigeria, often leading to sexual exploitation, little attention is directed towards understanding the triggers, patterns and factors reinforcing its prevalence. This paper builds from on-going research on reintegration processes for survivors of human trafficking in West Africa. The article explores the sexual exploitation of women and children in urban areas and the silent, previously ignored traffickers that sustain its persistence. Several survivors attest that they are at risk of trafficking/exploitation through recruitment, that could be peers/friends, ultimately leading to commercial exploitation; or by relatives to work as house helps, exposing them to sexual exploitation by male members of the household. The survivors’ narratives indicate that the same route into trafficking protects from detection and prosecution for their traffickers/exploiters. The helplessness of survivors is amplified in their narratives of deceit, indebtedness, lack of familiarity with the environment, low self-esteem, and shame. More awareness about potential risks to trafficking must be undertaken in rural areas.