Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trafficking In Nigerian Girls - The Business Exposed

Women trafficking from Nigeria is well organized. A Nigerian-based female called "Mama" or "Madam" plays a key role in recruiting and persuading young women to leave their Nigeria for Italy. Young women as young as 14 years are often enticed with the offer to work or study abroad, by physical threats or payments made to her family. Afterwards the deal is done. She is sold into slavery and forced to embark on a very long treacherous journey by land and sea to the ultimate destination, Italy. Before departing Nigeria they are made to swear oaths of secrecy to hold every information in confidentiality. However, on their way, the girls undergo many initiation rites including repeated gang-rapes, forced oral and anal sex, drug and sex orgies, etc to test their will to survive. Those who couldn't make it through the brutal rituals are sent back.

There are three levels of organization in the trafficking of Nigerian women and girls: A "Madam" living in Nigeria; the Nigerian "Madam" living in Italy; and the third, the "messengers," the persons transferring the money from Italy to Nigeria.

In another style of recruitment, prostitution is hidden by women claiming they are in well-paying jobs and need assistance to handle the volume of business. They make friends with unsuspecting young girls and shower them with lavish gifts. The girls are then gradually introduced into such business as hostesses, out-call prostitutes, club dancers, beauticians, masseuses, strippers, pornographic video actresses, entertainers, etc. Women in these positions are frequently trafficked. Since many of the girls are already in similar circumstances in Nigeria taking it abroad, for them, is not a problem. Some of them are aware of what they are going to do in Italy; some are intentionally deceived with prospects of an artistic career as dancers or actresses.

Nigerian girls are contracted in the suburbs of cities, such as Lagos or Benin City, and in the countryside in the south and east. Madams act as "go-betweens" for girls and women and the traffickers. Money is sent to the madam to pay the debt to the traffickers and to the girls’ families.

The trafficking of women to Europe is now a well-known phenomenon in Edo state. Many women therefore know they are likely to work as prostitutes if they agree to travel to Europe. However, they may have little understanding of the conditions under which they will work and of the size of the debt they will incur.

In anticipation of leaving Nigeria and helping one's family out of poverty, it is tempting for these women to believe in promises about good jobs. Whether this means being duped, or deceiving one's self, is not obvious. Importantly, the fact that the women may have known, or ought to have understood, that they would have to work as prostitutes does not excuse or legitimate subsequent abuse.

The women are particularly easily controlled because they and their families are forced to pay back huge debts to the trafficking organization for the cost of their trip and related expenses. It can take several years to pay off these debts.

Debts for travel are supposed to be paid off in 6 months, but in the majority of the cases after three or four years, the girls are still in prostitution to pay back the debt they owe.

A Nigerian madam, or "Mama," supervises and controls the women and girls. She organizes their activities and collects their profits in Italy. The women physically and psychologically fear the "Mama."

Very few of the women trafficked to Italy wish to return to their country of origin. Some say there are no opportunities there. Some fear reprisals from the traffickers, and others are ashamed to return without being able to show that they have been successful abroad. Unfortunately, some of them die in the process and never realize that goal.

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