News / Africa

    Enslaved in France, Nigerian Woman Fights Back

    Related Articles

    Heather Murdock
    In part one of VOA's series on Nigerian sex trafficking, we met Amaka Chinye, a 22-year-old who survived weeks in the desert en route to her new life in Europe only to be forced into prostitution when she arrived.  This is the story of how she fought back. 

    When she finally made it to Tripoli, Libya,  Amaka Chinye was directed to a boat that crossed the Mediterranean Sea and brought her to a camp in Italy.

    There, she was handed to another person, one in the chain of people connecting the recruiter in Nigeria who convinced her to go to her future "madam" in France.

    “I was there when the lady came and she was asking for my name.  My name is Amaka.  So she was asking for me, she wanted to see me.  She brought a lawyer to collect me, so that is how they took me to France," she said. 

    Debt trap

    When she got to France, she learned that she owed the madam 62,000 Euro - that’s over $80,000 - and her only job prospect was sex work.  The madam had a party for two young women who were leaving.  She told Amaka that life is good for her "girls."

    "She was like doing send off.  It was like a celebration.  She was cooking.  Jubilating," said Amaka. "She introduced those two girls to me.  ‘You can see, these are my girls.  They just finished paying me.  Do you know how much they have in their accounts?  Do you know they have a house in Nigeria?’” 

    After a month of working the streets day and night paying off her debt at about $500 a week, Amaka realized she could never make all that money.  She realized that she had essentially become a slave. 

    "So from there we have to involve the police.  Because there’s no way I can pay 62,000 Euro.  I don’t have a job there," she said. 

    Traffickers count on girls to be afraid to run away because they swear a "juju" oath that many believe has magical powers.  Before she left Nigeria, Amaka swore she would obey and pay the madam, or face death.

    Amaka went to the police anyway.  She was immediately detained and questioned and she told them everything. 

    "They arrested the husband first before they arrested her.  That was [when] they booked the flight.  And when we were coming back I was not the only person inside the flight that they were taking back, there were up to 14 girls, they were all girls that they were taking back," she recalled.

    Poor, but glad to be back

    A student at Nigeria's Benin University in Benin City walks past a billboard encouraging women to fight prostitution and human trafficking.A student at Nigeria's Benin University in Benin City walks past a billboard encouraging women to fight prostitution and human trafficking.
    x
    A student at Nigeria's Benin University in Benin City walks past a billboard encouraging women to fight prostitution and human trafficking.
    A student at Nigeria's Benin University in Benin City walks past a billboard encouraging women to fight prostitution and human trafficking.
    When she got home, Amaka began to pick up the pieces of the life she had left.  She once ran a small shop, but she couldn’t afford to stock it, so she bought some clothes to hock in the market.

    At a lively community center in Benin City, she says she’s glad to be back, even if she is now even poorer than she was when she left. 

    But, I ask, is she afraid to be killed by the juju spell?

    “They said I’m going to die if I did not pay.  I should die.  But I’ve been waiting for death and death did not come. I know it will not come.   I am very much stronger than juju," Amaka said.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MacGregory Eromomene from: Benin City,Edo State.
    November 29, 2012 5:42 AM
    No responsible government will allow private interest to hold hostage against the collective interest of the people. It is becoming apparent that those in power seem more inclined to serving individual interests than protecting our collective treasures.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora