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Migration And Female Objectification in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo Trafficked

Migration And Female Objectification in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo Trafficked

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Over the decades, feminism in African literature emerges as a dynamic exploration of gender, power, and identity within the rich tapestry of the continent’s literary narratives (Oyěwùmí, 2020, p. 105). Rooted in a complex historical context shaped by colonialism and post-colonial nation-building, African writers grapple with the multifaceted experiences of women in diverse societies.

Throughout African literature, themes of feminism manifest in nuanced portrayals of women challenging societal norms, navigating patriarchal systems, and reclaiming agency (Emecheta, 1979, p. 176). From the pioneering works of Chinua Achebe and Buchi Emecheta to contemporary voices like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Tsitsi Dangarembga, authors illuminate the struggles and triumphs of women across generations and geographies.

The exploration of feminism in African literature transcends borders, encompassing a multitude of languages, genres, and perspectives. Through close textual analysis and engagement with feminist theory, scholars unveil the complexities of gender dynamics and the intersecting forces of race, class, and ethnicity (Nnaemeka 1998, pp. 105). Each literary work becomes a lens through which to examine the intricate web of power relations and the resilience of women in the face of adversity.

As African literature continues to evolve, so too does the discourse surrounding feminism. Scholars interrogate the representation of women, interrogating narratives of liberation, agency, and empowerment (Adichie 2014, p. 121). In doing so, they not only shed light on the diverse experiences of African women but also challenge dominant narratives and reshape the landscape of literary scholarship.

According to Agbu, (2020, p. 121) female objectification is a pervasive social issue that transcends borders and cultures, manifesting in various forms of exploitation and dehumanization. Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s novel, Trafficked,(2008) delves into this complex phenomenon, offering a poignant exploration of the experiences of women who fall victim to human trafficking. Set against the backdrop of contemporary Nigeria, the novel unravels the harsh realities faced by female migrants who are subjected to commodification and exploitation.

However, according to Jackie, (2020, p. 132) “migration has been a prominent feature of human history, driven by a myriad of economic, social, political, and environmental factors. In recent decades, globalization has intensified migration flows, with millions of people relocating in search of better opportunities, safety, or refuge. However, alongside the hopeful narratives of migration, there exists a darker reality characterized by exploitation, particularly of vulnerable populations such as women and children”.

Ezeigbo’s Trafficked provides a poignant exploration of the experiences of migrants, particularly women, who are ensnared in the web of human trafficking. Set against the backdrop of contemporary Nigeria, the novel follows the journeys of female protagonists who are lured into migration with promises of better lives, only to find themselves subjected to various forms of exploitation and objectification. Through vivid storytelling and rich character development, Ezeigbo sheds light on the harsh realities faced by migrants, offering a window into the complexities of their struggles and resilience.

In the same vein, Shoshanna, (2021, p. 103) added that the narrative of Trafficked is the pervasive phenomenon of female objectification, wherein women are treated as commodities to be bought, sold, or traded for profit. Within the context of migration, female migrants often find themselves vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, as they navigate unfamiliar territories and systems that exploit their vulnerabilities. Ezeigbo skillfully portrays the dehumanizing effects of objectification on the female characters, highlighting the loss of agency and dignity they experience as they are reduced to mere objects of transaction.

Migration And Female Objectification in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo Trafficked

Equally, Jacob, (2020, p. 45) also added that “the depiction of migration and female objectification in Trafficked is deeply rooted in the social and cultural context of contemporary Nigeria. Economic disparities, gender inequalities, and systemic corruption create fertile ground for the exploitation of women, particularly those from marginalized communities”. Ezeigbo’s narrative not only exposes these systemic injustices but also challenges readers to confront the complexities of migration and gender dynamics in a globalized world. According to Cornel, (2021):

A woman is often overwhelmed by the responsibilities in her life those created by the society and those created by herself. She is expected to perform her traditional roles, efficiently run her home, and be a good wife, a super-mother, and a supportive member of the extended family. She is expected to contribute to the family income. And she must perform creditably at her job or business to be recognised or to make progress. And this task she has to accomplish in a culture where she is taught that she is inferior to her male counterpart (p.206).

Thus, women are traditionally regarded as mere tools of necessity; housewives, child bearers, home tenders and gratifiers of men’s sexual passions. They are left out of decision-making processes in their communities. There are even certain things women are not supposed to do, which are reserved exclusively for men. In the society, women were consistently bruised and brutalised.

This was mostly imposed on them by their male counterparts. Women were regarded as the weaker vessels and also as sex objects and political pawns in the games played by men. Two instances are seen in the beginning of creation as recorded in the Bible, in the sense that God created the first man (Adam) before he created the first woman (Eve). The implication of this is that man is seen as the lord and hero to the woman.

Sex trafficking has become a growing social issue where human beings have become commodities. In a neo-liberal state where economic freedom and liberalization are systems set in place to create an ostensibly more egalitarian society of equal resources and opportunities, this has been habituated to become a profit making industry by traffickers who use the false pretenses of better lives abroad to lure people who suffer high levels of poverty.

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According to Ezenweke, (2020, p. 2) in her book A Hindrance to Women Potentials, “women have suffered tremendous marginalisation and show of superiority complex in the past”. Many cultures of the world testify to this assertion. In this regard, she indicates that women’s problems vary in the impact of negative cultural practices. In the same vein, Nworgu, (2021, p. 74) commenting on Ebere Ezenweke’s claim, emphasises that:

Educationally, women are discriminated against. Parents prefer to send male children to school to the exclusion of the girls . . . In the traditional society, women are not allowed to control their hard-earned income. It is considered normal for wives to hand over the hard earned money to their husband for proper control, disbursement or safekeeping. If the woman dares raise an objection to such unholy practice, she is maligned, cajoled and criticised as a social misfit. Such a woman may stand the risk of being sent packing (p.74).

To Nworgu, women are helpless in the society because they are “rightless” and voiceless due to the cultural practices of the past which still constitute serious conflicts in our contemporary society. All through history, the oppression of women is invariably constant, a part of global dilemma, ageless, systematic and deep rooted. Nmah, (2019, p. 4) in his book Women’s Right in Igbo Land states:

Igbo women, like the majority of Africa’s population, are subject to inequalities in the political, social, economic and cultural fields. Women’s attitude to their traditional role have varied from acceptance, which has tended to condition the nonutilisation of formal guarantees of equality (p.4).

Women who migrate to other country always faced with sexism and it also happened within some culture in a woman homeland. Sexual and sex-based forms of harassment against girls and young women are frequently (mis)understood as simply inappropriate behaviour rather than as systemic discrimination against women, thereby undermining its seriousness.

This misunderstanding also runs counter to the promise of substantive equality set out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW], which aims to eliminate ‘any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field’.

Migration And Female Objectification in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo Trafficked

Furthermore, migration is engendered by some factors which are not unconnected to poor governance, insecurity of lives and property, poor infrastructures, poor standard of education, abject poverty, inequality, injustice, among others. Nwanyanwu concludes that “Migration is the consequence of postcolonial malfunctions…” (Nwanyanwu, 2020, p. 387).This assertion blames the mass migration of Africans to the Western hemisphere on the poor leadership accessioned by the ineptitude of the elites at governance. Lending his voice on this, Maxwell, (2019) opines that humans have various reasons for migration. Some of such reasons are:

… prolonged droughts, floods, environmental degradation and natural disasters. In Nigeria for instance, social reasons have prompted many more migration than natural phenomena. Examples are unemployment, civil unrest, inadequate food supply caused by population increase, bad governance, defeat in war, the desire for material gains, search for religious or political autonomy, poverty, criminal consents, high population pressure and education. (Maxwell, 2019, p. 251)

The above point of view, without doubt, clearly reveals to African states the root causes of migration in African society. Olaniyan summarises thus: “Migration in African studies is a manifestation of different challenges in the African continent”(5). A critical examination of the Nigerian situation affirms that factors responsible for large scale migration from Nigeria are not unconnected to corrupt leadership, and desire for material gains.

However, they are oblivious of the fact that the West is equally the centre of brutality and subjugation, disappointment and frustration. In Chimamanda Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck , Akunna expresses her fantasies of getting a better life as soon as she arrives at the United States. But her hope is upset by diasporic conditions that dawn on her in the hostland. Like other African migrants, she regrets ever leaving home, gets disillusioned, and feels alienated from her root.

Maxwell avers that “a valid and active sense of self may have been eroded by dislocation resulting from migration, the experience of enslavement, transportation or voluntary removal for indentured labour” (252). It is this lack of original self-identity (which is caused by the voluntary and involuntary continuous movement) that actually brings a double identity or hybridity. The dynamics of defining ‘self’ and finding a space for ‘self’ by African migrants have open up chats on diasporic identity codes. Lubkemann, (2018) opines that “diaspericity” should be understood in terms of identity discourse in which the socially determined ‘self’ of the migrants lives within the periphery of imagination and “publicly presented through particular types of claim about group origins” (p.78).

 Lubkemann seems to state that all diasporic identities are just ordinary claims for social reckoning. Invariably, hybrid identities are false identities, a cover-up of the extreme brutal experience of the African migrants. It is against the background of this modern nomadism and the unfortunate experiences that befall the African migrant in search of the proverbial greener pastures that this study is conducted.

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Women’s potentials has unfortunately been limited and has not fully been tapped because of socio-cultural prejudices and practices. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s Trafficked is aimed at examining human trafficking, exploitation, dehumanisation, oppression, sexual harassment, poverty, corruption and betrayal, which have eaten up the conscience of certain individuals in the country.

From the novel, it was poverty that made Nneoma go in search of the job in which she was tricked into going overseas. Little did she know that she was to do an indecent job of prostitution? Ujowundu says that Nneoma was forced into prostitution in Europe against her wish. That she abandoned her fiancée and family for greener pastures abroad, not knowing that exploitation and betrayal await her there. It is however on this back drop that this work seeks to examine migration and female objectification in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s Trafficked

1.2 Statement of the Problem

This paper examines the concept of migration and female objectifications. Women cry out that they are exploited by the society. They are seen, not heard; their image battered and their roles not appreciated. This proposal is on the image and role of women mostly in African society, and especially in the Igbo society. Women cry out against exploitation, intimidation, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and all other attendant evils committed against them.

However, the number of migrant women is said to have doubled between 1960 and 2015. In 2017, women comprised slightly less than half, or 48 percent, of the international migrant population. Interestingly, they outnumbered men in all regions except Africa and Asia.  Data indicate that the rate of female migration is growing faster than male migration in many receiving countries.  While migration has moved up in the international policy agenda, its wide-ranging implications for children have received little attention. Children are affected by migration when they are left behind by one or both migrating parents, migrating with parents (or born abroad), or migrating alone.

The impact of migration on children and adolescents must be seen in the broader context of poverty and conflict, and within the perspectives of vulnerability and resilience, gender relations and children’s rights. It has also been observed that the continues subordination, humiliation and oppression of women are further aggravated by traditions, cultural beliefs and religions of most societies which favour patriarchy is portrayed by Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s Trafficked.

In Adimora Ezeigbo’s Trafficked, young, innocent and naïve girls are taken advantage of, and sold out for prostitution and other money making ventures by those they trusted. At the end of the day, humiliation, dehumanisation and even demented lives become the fate of women, contrary to expectations as can be seen in the cases of Nneoma, Efe, Alice, Fola and the others. Women are used, condemned and dumped by the men.

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main objective of this study is to examine migration and female objectification in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s Trafficked. However, the specific objectives of this work shall be:

to examine the various forms of female objectifications that are portray in Adimora Ezeigbo’s Trafficked, examine the different types of oppression that women face in a society that is controlled by men. Analyze how men in a culture where men are in charge depict women’s identities and examine the pain and abuse suffered by women who left their own country in quest of better opportunities.

1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This research will portray the ordeals of African migrants’ women in the West, their struggle for survival and the traumatic scars of such struggles on their psyche as found. The study will serve as reference material for future researchers on related subject. Above all, the study hopes to contribute to the existing body of knowledge and scholarship on migration.

However, the novel offers a unique lens through which to examine the complex realities faced by migrants, particularly women, in the context of contemporary Nigeria. By delving into the experiences of female characters who are lured into migration under false pretenses, only to find themselves ensnared in situations of exploitation and objectification, Ezeigbo sheds light on the harsh realities that many migrants endure. Through her vivid storytelling, readers are confronted with the human cost of migration, challenging simplistic narratives of opportunity and mobility.

Furthermore, the study of female objectification within the context of migration is vital for understanding the broader socio-cultural dynamics at play. Ezeigbo’s portrayal of women as commodities to be bought, sold, and exploited highlights the systemic inequalities and power imbalances that underpin processes of migration and human trafficking. By critically engaging with these themes, scholars and readers alike can gain insights into the ways in which gender intersects with migration, and the structural injustices that perpetuate the exploitation of women.

On a societal level, the study of migration and female objectification in “Trafficked” contributes to ongoing conversations about gender equality, human rights, and social justice. By shining a spotlight on the experiences of marginalized women who are often silenced and overlooked, Ezeigbo’s novel serves as a catalyst for empathy and advocacy. Through a deeper understanding of the complexities of migration and gender dynamics, policymakers, activists, and communities can work towards creating more just and equitable societies where the rights and dignity of all individuals are upheld.

1.5. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This research employs a qualitative approach, which is well-suited for exploring the nuanced themes of migration and female objectification in literature. A qualitative research design allows for an in-depth analysis of textual elements, characters, and themes within the context of Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s novel Trafficked.

The primary methodological tool used in this study is literary analysis. Through multiple readings of the novel, the researcher will closely examine the plot, character development, dialogues, and thematic elements related to migration and female objectification. Attention will be paid to the portrayal of female characters, their agency, and the ways in which they navigate the challenges of migration and exploitation.

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In addition to the novel itself, secondary sources such as literary critiques, scholarly articles, and theoretical frameworks related to migration, gender studies, and feminist theory will be consulted. These secondary sources will provide context and theoretical underpinnings for the analysis, enriching the interpretation of the primary text. The data obtained from the textual analysis will undergo thematic analysis. This involves identifying recurring themes, patterns, and motifs related to migration and female objectification in “Trafficked.” Data will be coded according to thematic categories, allowing for systematic organization and comparison of textual evidence. The coded data will then be interpreted in relation to the research questions and objectives of the study, making connections between textual elements and broader socio-cultural contexts.

1.6 SCOPE/DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY

This study is being limited to migration and sexism as framework for the objectification of the female body in Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s Trafficked. This is to enable the researcher to complete the work within the stipulated time. Therefore, all conclusions are based on textual analysis of the selected text.

1.7 Bio-data of Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo

Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo was born as the first of the six children of Joshua and Christana Adimora. She was raised in Eastern Nigeria and combines the urban and rural environments as background and setting for her children’s stories and adult friction. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Masters (MA) degree in English from the University of Lagos and her Ph.D. from University of Ibadan, in Nigeria.

She also had a postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from University of Lagos where she is presently Head of English Department. She has lived in the North, east and Western part of Nigeria and has travelled extensively in Africa, Europe and in the USA. Her professional work experience include; teaching in secondary schools and a Teachers College and then becoming a university lecturer. She also worked in the press between 1992 and 1999 during which time she was able to write editorials, feature articles and maintain columns. Prof. Akachi can be teamed as a lecturer, writer, novelist, critic, essayist, journalist, and administrator, all in one.

The amiable mother of three has also published over forty-five academic paper in local and international journals, fifteen books (thirteen for children) and some of her works appear as chapters in books. Some of her short stories also appear in five Anthologies. Two of her books have been translated into Swahili and Xhosa languages. The children’s Sunday school’s teacher regularly gives topics such as culture and youth development in Nigeria, child upbringing and the education of the girl child, etc.

Recently, she launched four novels at a time and they have all gone to stake the literary market. She is married to Professor Chris Ezeigbo and was the National Treasure of the Association of Nigerian Authors from 1995 – 1997. Vice President of women writers of Nigeria (WRITA) FROM 1998-2000. Currently, Prof. Akachi is the first Vice President of P.E.N. Nigeria and the Financial Secretary of WRITA National. Prof. Adimora-Ezeigbo has won more than twenty literacy and academic awards within and outside the shores of Nigeria and has also attended many sponsored academic conferences in Europe, America and Africa. She is a Research fellow at the Royal Holloway University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, in South Africa.

Prof. Akachi saw a role model in her mother while growing up because Mrs. Christana Adimora was quite hard-working, independent and kind. As a young person she faced the challenge of how she was going to further her education after the civil war. But hard work, focus and her determination paid off as the Federal Government gave her scholarship to study in the University of Lagos. Her motto in life is to be the best she can be in all she does, and to help others if she is in a position to do so.

One of Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo novels Trafficked centers on a young lady who was trafficked outside her country. The prolific writer is of the opinion that greedy people are often the ones who end up as victims to traffickers because they want to travel abroad at all cost and make money easily, so they easily decided by traffickers. She also cites poverty as another reason why people get trafficked because victim are made to believe that they would make it abroad and be able to get rich. She is motivated to write children books because of her love for children and young people.

This chapter has carefully examines background to the study, statement of the research problem, research objectives, scope of the study, research methodology, delimitation of the study and bio-data of Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo who happened to be the author of the primary text understudy. The next chapter which is chapter two will deal with literature review and the research will carry out some review on key concepts such as; migration, female objectification, forms of objectifications, theoretical framework and review of scholarships on Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo’s  Trafficked.

Mr. Harrison

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