Understanding child trafficking from the point of view of trafficked children: The case of 'rescued' children in Nigeria

by Ifeyinwa Mbakogu

Institution: McGill University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Social Work
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2063967
Full text PDF: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile139008.pdf


My research on children 'rescued' from trafficking focused on Nigeria, and children resident in shelters operated by The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other related Matters – NAPTIP, which is Nigeria's anti-trafficking agency. The ten month research, from August 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014, involved a participatory process towards understanding children's narratives of the reasons behind their involvement in trafficking, their experiences during trafficking and their experiences after removal from trafficking and in agency care. The research also introduced postcolonial theory and critical race theory as platforms for exploring themes promoting the view that child trafficking persists due to its intersectionality with other forms of marginalisation related to children's age, gender, race, culture and social class that reinforce their silence, oppression and exploitation. During my exploratory and field research, children's narratives made constant references to the role their homes of departure played in their involvement in trafficking – and led to the concept of 'home' becoming central to my analysis.The study used qualitative research methods involving: documentary analysis, participant observation in NAPTIP and NGO shelters in five zones (Lagos, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Abuja and Edo), semi-structured interviews, drawing, drama and focus group discussions with 55 children (46 girls and 9 boys) under 18 years, and semi-structured interviews with 13 NAPTIP and NGO representatives. Participating children were removed from diverse types of trafficking and were nationals of Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Republic of Benin. Following the lead of participating children's narratives, data collection focused on four areas: children's journey away from home, children's experiences of trafficking, children's experience of life in the NAPTIP shelter; and children's perception of going home or moving on. Findings from the study made a drastic shift from previous research that dwell on poverty as the basis for children's involvement in trafficking to highlight other factors emanating from children's departure from home. Some of these factors include: unexplored situations (such as teenage pregnancy, kidnap and accusation of witchcraft) leading children into trafficking, the strategic or targeted benefit of child migration, children's quest for education, children's agency in accessing opportunities for vocational development, the nature of family decision processes and children's sense of duty to family members, children's trust in relatives or people taking them away from home, frustration with remaining at home and not attending school, the greed of parents, and the gamble children and their parents take to survive. Moreover, there were indications that traditional child fostering has transformed in the 21st century to become a new avenue for the exploitation of children, including those living with close relatives. The findings also suggest strong links between child trafficking and gender and between child… Advisors/Committee Members: Jill Hanley (Supervisor).