Women Trafficking In Nigeria

Hundreds of Nigerian women and girls are trafficked each year into forcible prostitution. They are made to endure slave-like conditions in foreign countries , notably Italy, and the Middle East. WOCON is stepping up its efforts to expose and erradicate this abusive and illegal practice.

Due to many factors including the escalating level of poverty, lack of viable opportunities, fallen family values, the attraction to earn foreign exchange which is more valuable than the local currency and the desire to get rich quick, many parents and guardiwill use any means to force their children into the trafficking ring. They make sacrifices such as the sale of their propertiemake N20000-N40000 (an equivalent of about $200-400 US dollars) deposits to traffickers on behalf of their children.

After recruitment the victim and her family member are subjected to oaths of secrecy before traditional shrines. The victim’s body parts like pubic hairs; blood, fingernails and personal items such as pants are collected and used for the oath taking ritualsoath taking ritual has a multi-purpose effect on the victims, some of which are “to instill fear of terrible reprisals such as death or madness if the oaths are broken by the victim;” “to attract customers for the victims” and “to protect the trafficked victims against HIV/AIDS diseases.

To further perfect the transaction, the traffickers or their agents engage the services of lawyers to draw up a tripartite agreement referred to as a “Friendly Agreement”[8].

The routes taken to the various destinations are dynamic and are as varied as the different syndicated gangs of traffickers. Some of the most common routes are from Nigeria through the neighbouring countries of Republics of Benin and Togo to Ghana or Mali where orientation and change of identities are conducted for those to travel by air. Another route is through North African colike Morocco or Libya and through the Suez Canal to Britain and other parts of Europe. In recent times there has been an increase in young girls claiming asylum in Britain but who are however lured into trafficking for prostitution in Europe[9]. The porous borders in West Africa facilitated by the ECOWAS[10] Treaty, allows easy passage for the trafficking of women and children from Nigeria and neighbouring countries using Nigeria either as recruitment as well as transit country to Europe.

On arrival at destinations in Europe or the Middle East, the personal belongings of the trafficked children, including travel documents, are confiscated and they are forced into prostitution and repayment bonds of amounts raging between $30000 and $50000 U.S. Dollars[11]. This repayment schedule sometimes necessitates the children engaging in unprotected sex with 10-20 partners in a day. An average repayment lasts from 3-5 years, but some victims, especially those trafficked to Saudi Arabia neget freedom from the bondage. The Madams may terminate the transaction prematurely to her benefit by alerting the European Authorities that the victim is an illegal immigrant, if the victims fall ill or contracts HIV/AIDS, or if the victim has almost completed the repayment schedule.

In addition, the trafficked victims are subjected to physical abuse resulting in serious bodily harm or death by their trafficMadams. Between the 1994 and 1998 about 116 Nigerian Prostitutes were reported dead in Italy from the hands of their customers or through the Madams.