‘You are a human trafficker when you do these things,” they lamented.
They called her all types of names in anger. But is she really a human trafficker? She can be every other evil thing but not a trafficker. Let’s dive into the gist.
If you have been following the news lately, you would be familiar with the case of a couple in Lagos who beat their domestic servant to death. For those who might have skipped the story, I will talk briefly about it.
The couple, Mr and Mrs Stephens, got a domestic servant through an agency in January. After working for some months, the domestic servant, Joy, a girl of about 19 years, requested that her employer began paying her salary directly to her, and not through the agent. She told them she wanted to open an account for that purpose. Initially, she was paid N10,000 but after a while, the couple stopped paying her. Their complaint was that she wasn’t doing a good job. As a result of that, Joy decided she wasn’t going to continue working until she got paid. Mr and Mrs Stephens grew angry and asked her to leave their house. They called the agency and informed them about their decision. The couple wanted Joy out of their house immediately.
Joy left the house on April 10th, however, she came back due to the lockdown in the state. She stayed with them until April 19th when she breathed her last breath. The couple called the agency the next day, and reported a fabricated story. They claimed she had committed suicide. The agency alerted the police and after investigation, the police detected that the girl did not commit suicide. She had been beaten to death. There were marks of violence, fresh wounds on her body, evidenced that Joy didn’t take her own life.
One might ask: Does Joy deserve such a treatment even if she works as a maid?
How can a human beat another human to death?
Joy’s crime was that she requested for her salary to be paid directly to her. Some have argued that she wanted to put an end to a modernized form of human trafficking. Internal human trafficking.
Nevertheless, her situation was different from the case of the Nigerian girl who was put up for sell in Lebanon. Nigerians received the shock of their lives when a Lebanese man put up a Nigerian domestic worker up for sell on a popular Facebook page, used for trading items such as food, cloths, shoes and furniture. A lot of Nigerians took to social media to express their outrage. They requested the Lebanese government to prosecute him, liberate the girl and others he might have sold. This is no doubt a case of human trafficking. All the elements of human trafficking stipulated by the UN can be found in this case. This is slavery and it must stop. In fact, the government should make great effort to prosecute, convict and punish labour recruitment agencies criminally responsible for trafficking by means of a deceptive recruitment.
Now, this is what I call a perfect example of human trafficking.
Let’s go back to Joy’s issue. Joy was maltreated by the people she was working for. They treated her like she was nothing because of her position. This is a form of racism. We are all humans. The bosses and the workers, the rich and the poor need to see one another as humans. Do not degrade another because he/she works for you.
Humans fail to recognize that all types of jobs are important. The man who comes to pick the debris, the woman who sweeps the road, the cleaner, the boy who washes your car, the woman who sells in the market and the man who works in an office. All are important and must co-exist for the good of the society. Imagine what would happen if there was no one to pack your waste when it gets full or when the woman who sells in the market refuses to sell.
If someone feels he or she cannot treat a domestic servant like his brother, sister or his own child, that person is not worthy of one.
I know a woman whose domestic servants attend the school recognized as one of the best schools in Ibadan. And these are girls she never knew from Adam. She only did it for humanity.
This is how it should be done. Treat your domestic servants as you would treat your loving child. Love all equally.
When I thought about how domestic servant should be treated, I thought of the movie Empire. Lucious’ domestic servant, Juanita (Claudette Burchette) was taken as a member of the family. She might not sit at the table to eat a meal with the family, but we all saw that her position was well respected. Such ambience would result in happiness. Studies have shown that when a worker is happy at his place of work, he would be very productive.
Let’s examine if Joy’s case falls under human trafficking. According to the United Nation, trafficking in person has three constituent elements;
The Act- recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of the person;
The Means- threat or coercion, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim;
The Purpose- for exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices, and the removal of organs.
I do not see Joy’s case as one which should be categorized under human trafficking. The circumstance before her death did not constitute trafficking in person. Unarguably, there was an action, (recruitment) but it wasn’t a fraudulent one because Joy had gone to them willingly, the means (giving payments or benefits to the person in control of her) the agency was being paid instead of Joy. This was the agreement between both parties. Joy must have signed a contract- a legally binding agreement that recognizes and governs the rights and duties of the parties to the agreement. The purpose (exploitation). Joy might have been exploited by the recruitment agency, however, the agency kept to their side of the deal until she decided to breach it. But she was underpaid. I mean, what would N10,000 do for someone who lives in a city like Lagos?
A lot of people have asked: What kind of a human runs such type of an agency?
These type of agencies who employ girls like Joy, are third parties agencies. Many of them recruit as HR for organizations. They are all recruitment companies registered like every other organization. I understand that they started out of the need to render services. People are busy. The schedule of many women are so tight that they need extra hand around the house. Having thought about this problem they started these agencies for this purpose. If one identifies a problem and provides a solution, one would grow in no time.
What I believe was the fault of the recruitment agency.
Joy’s case only confirmed that the agency she worked for had a lot of weaknesses. They should have carried out a background search on their client. A thorough research would have exposed who the Stephens were. Again, I find it disturbing that they knew that Joy was constantly assaulted, yet they acted too slow.
I hope Joy gets the justice she deserves.
So, here are my questions for you: Do you think Joy was right to have made such request? Was Joy truly a victim of a deceptive recruitment agency?
Please give reasons for your answer?