News / Africa

Nigerian Sex Trafficking Victims Abandoned

Trafficked Women Return to Nigeria Despairingi
|| 0:00:00
X
Heather Murdock
November 27, 2012 10:05 PM
For young Nigerian women who have escaped sexual slavery in Europe, coming home can be as difficult as the journey. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Edo State, where victims can be freed by the same kind of “magic” that enslaved them in the first place.

Trafficked Women Return to Nigeria Despairing

Related Articles

Heather Murdock
For many Nigerian victims of sex trafficking, coming home is as hard as the trip.  In Edo State, sometimes the same kind of so-called "magic" that binds victims to traffickers is used to set them free.

After five years of sex work on the streets in Italy, Patience Ken had paid $40,000 to her madam, essentially buying her freedom.  Before she could make any money of her own, she was arrested and thrown into a Roman jail.

Months later, she was handcuffed and brought to the airport.  From there, she was shipped back to Nigeria.  After she landed, they told her she was free.  She fainted.

“They said I am free, so there I got faint," she recalled.  "I got faint because what am I going to do?   Where am I going to start from?  There is no money.  I am stranded.  No clothes.  Only the clothes that I am putting on.  Only the shoes that I am putting on."

Ken sold her mobile phone to pay for her trip back to her village in Edo State, where most Nigerian sex trafficking victims in Europe originate.  When she arrived, her family was not happy to see another mouth to feed. 

Neighbors whispered: “Had she been a prostitute?  Why then did she have no money?”

Solomon Okoduwa is the president of the Initiative for Youth Awareness on Migration, Immigration, Development and Re-integration, an aid organization for returnees.  Okoduwa says returning victims do not just face poverty and isolation at home. 

Many fear they will be killed by a juju spell, the supposed magical oath in which they swore they would pay traffickers for their passage to Europe.

Traditional West African magic called juju is used to both convince girls they are bound to traffickers for survival and that they have been freed. (VOA/Heather Murdock)Traditional West African magic called juju is used to both convince girls they are bound to traffickers for survival and that they have been freed. (VOA/Heather Murdock)
x
Traditional West African magic called juju is used to both convince girls they are bound to traffickers for survival and that they have been freed. (VOA/Heather Murdock)
Traditional West African magic called juju is used to both convince girls they are bound to traffickers for survival and that they have been freed. (VOA/Heather Murdock)
​Okoduwa says the same traditional priests that administered the oaths have the power to release sex trafficking victims from the spell, or convince the girls they are released, which has the same practical result.

“What I do is help intervening, mediate between the girl and the man.  I talk sense into them and the man says, ‘Okay, from today you are free.’  They make some incantation and say ‘today you are free,’” explained Okoduwa.

His organization runs a training program for returnees, teaching agriculture and business.  But when students finish the program, they often find no available jobs, and have no capital to start up businesses.

This problem, he says, is why so many young people want to leave in the first place.

"The economic situation, that is the drive of our people that is chasing so many of them out of our country thinking that the grass is greener on the other side," he said.

To prove his point, Okoduwa takes us to the farming village of Abumwenre in the Edo State.

Aid worker Soloman Okoduwa (front) and resident Joy Joy Eriamentor (behind) listen to Naomi Benjamin tell her story. (VOA/Heather Murdock)Aid worker Soloman Okoduwa (front) and resident Joy Joy Eriamentor (behind) listen to Naomi Benjamin tell her story. (VOA/Heather Murdock)
x
Aid worker Soloman Okoduwa (front) and resident Joy Joy Eriamentor (behind) listen to Naomi Benjamin tell her story. (VOA/Heather Murdock)
Aid worker Soloman Okoduwa (front) and resident Joy Joy Eriamentor (behind) listen to Naomi Benjamin tell her story. (VOA/Heather Murdock)
Sitting by a stack of firewood, 23-year-old Naomi Benjamin tells the story of her high hopes for Europe being dashed when she found out they brought her to be a prostitute.  She attempted to run away from the traffickers and spent more than two years in jail before they deported her.

"It was... It was terrible.  My mind was troubling me.  This was not where I was supposed to be," she said.

Her neighbor, 18-year-old Joy Eriamentor, listens to the tale, curious and concerned, but not dissuaded from her own dreams of travel.  She says she loves science but here in Abumere there is no chance for her to get ahead.

“We do not have any help here.  Nothing, no work.  Because my family is too poor, that is why I want to go to America," she said.

Officials say sex trafficking’s main enemy is awareness, and girls like Joy may be protected from a long, hard journey if they know they will have to repay facilitiators once they arrive in Europe.

Desperation from abject poverty, they add, drives all forms of human trafficking in Nigeria.  Young people knowingly risk their lives and freedom to find a better life because they feel they have nothing to lose.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: emmanuel from: lagos
November 28, 2012 4:18 AM
edo state hav been so stigmatize that d mere mention of d alphabet e 1 already nos is 2 do wit prostitution in italy.no one kias wat they go tru.thng hav 2 change 4 good.

In Response

by: MacGregory Eromomene from: Benin City,Edo State.
November 30, 2012 1:15 PM
This is not true about the Edos, Mr Emmanuel ,if I ask, how much of Edos do know? Stop saying what you don't have update information about. This is State I've been all my life.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid