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‘I did Ashawo Work for Nothing’ – Nigerians Deported From Libya Tell How They Were Forced Into Prostitution

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Some of the young women who recently returned from Libya have narrated grueling stories of how they were tricked into prostitution by the people who took them to the northern African country.

Unlike the 130 Nigerians deported last December, this group voluntarily returned from Libya on Tuesday aboard a chartered Nouvelair aircraft and some have revealed the familiar shocking stories of human trafficking and sexual slavery.

Guardian reports that “the Director, Search and Rescue, NEMA, Salisu Mohammed, who gave a breakdown of the returnees, said they were made up of 109 females, 49 males, seven children and six infants.”

Read the disturbing tales as told to Guardian by some of the women;

21-year-old Ogechi Gabriel from Imo State, said:

“I travelled in October 2016. The journey was very tough; we passed many obstacles – the immigration, police, the desert. When we finally got to Libya, we suffered even more. We have to earn money to eat and to pay our burger- the people that took us there. They deceived us. They told me I was going there to work, they didn’t tell me I was going there to do prostitution.

When I got there, they forced us to sleep with men and they collect the money. They said we have to pay them all the money they spent bringing us from Nigeria and the amount we owed was N700,000. So any day we sleep with men, they collect the money.

One morning, some people came and attacked us, they were killing a lot of people, when they came to our place they broke down the door, they asked us to come out and they took us to prison.”

Nigerian government should help us, we don’t want to go back to that kind of work again.”

24-year-old Vivian Kelechi, said:

“I thought it was a normal job I will do, I never knew it was prostitution. I suffered a lot, the guy that took me there said he bought me from someone else so I had to pay him back.

The guy that took me there said I have to repay him for the travel expenses. He said the money was N650,000. What is paining me is that I have lost everything, I have nothing now, my mum is dead and I couldn’t take care of her. I did ashawo work for nothing, my womb is down now, Each time I want to bath, I feel my womb and I know I have infection.

I was about to write my WAEC, but I had to drop out of school because my mum was sick. When my mum’s sickness got worse, someone told me about the travel and I agreed because I needed the money to help my mum. We need Nigerian government to help us with jobs so we will not go back to this kind of work again.”

26-year-old Aminat Adewale, from Ogun State, said:

“I travelled last year August. We were deceived, the woman that took us told us we were going to Italy, not by road but by air. So many people died on the road, I am even lucky to be alive. When we reached Libya the woman sold us.

They didn’t tell us the kind of job we will do, they forced us into prostitution and made us pay them.

I chose to travel because I couldn’t get job after my school. I learnt nursing after my secondary school, but when I checked the hospital requirement and found out that I don’t have that, I have to look for a way to survive. If our government had helped us, we wouldn’t bother to travel to another country.”

21-year-old Deborah Ebiwonjumi, from Ondo State, said:

“I travelled to Libya February 2016. Some people told my parents that they will help me get work in Libya, when I got there, the madam I was working for beat me. Last month, she told me to bring soap, when I brought it, she pushed me and I fell down. She told her husband that I poured the soap on the floor deliberately, she beat me and I broke my hand, then they took me to the hospital and abandoned me there. When I recovered, I didn’t know the address of my madam, so the police came and took me to prison.

Gift Peters said:

“I got to Libya 11 months ago after being deceived that I was being taken to Germany. At Libya, they sold me to someone who has a connection house in Libya, where we were maltreated daily. If we don’t want to work, they will do something to you that will make you wish to die. Sometimes they use iron to burn us. At times, they will instruct our fellow ladies to urinate for us to drink.”

Presently, the women have only been given N19,650 each as support from the International Organization for Migration in Lagos.

But, will the authorities ever track down and arrest these traffickers, just like the UK government arrested Nigerian fugitive Franca Asemota for trafficking, or like when the Nigeria Immigration Service intercepted the bus allegedly trafficking underage children in Ebonyi?

We hopes so.

Ada Okoye

Mother. Writer. Lover. King.

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