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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.