A Nigerian victim of human trafficking, who narrated her ordeal to top government officials in the country, including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said that she was constantly forced to have sex even while on menstruation.
The victim, whose name was not revealed, shared her story on February 26 in Benin City, Edo State, during a Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking organised by the Nigerian Senate.
The video of the roundtable, which contained victims’ testimonies, is posted on the Senate Facebook page.
The victim was 19 when she was trafficked from Edo State to Russia and forced into prostitution for two years, according to information in the video.
Prostitution is illegal in Russia.
The victim, free from her traffickers and no longer into prostitution, is now married and pregnant.
“They told me I was going into prostitution for six months,” she said. “I was going there to make money to further my education.
“We had to sleep with different kinds of men. It was on the street. We were standing on the road,” she said.
The victim said she, alongside other trafficked Nigerian girls, usually left home by 3 p.m to stand on the streets, soliciting for sex, till 3 a.m the next day.
They were forced to have sex even when on menstruation, she said. “She (my madam) would say no (we can’t stop work), there is a tissue she used to give to us to block it (the menstruation). She does not allow us to stay at home,” she said.
“We paid our madam for food, clothes, and also contributed money for the house rent. We bought the condoms ourselves.”
The victim also talked about the number of clients and money she made in a day.
“It depends…. Sometimes, six, seven or eight clients.
“1,000 rubles per client. For an entire day, you could make 10,000 rubles, if you are lucky you could make 15, 000,” she said.
One thousand rubles is about 17 US dollars, which is about 6,120 naira.
She narrated how she was often assaulted by men and also arrested and detained for days by the police.
“I was beaten up and raped by four men. They even urinated on me when I asked them to pay me.
“I didn’t care to report to the Russian authorities that I was raped. Apart from the fact that I didn’t have a proof, I thought they won’t believe me since I was a prostitute,” she said.
The victim said she eventually decided to quit prostitution, and was able to escape to Nigeria without her international passport through the help of a Nigerian she identified as “Mr. Ken”.
But before then she was able to pay her “madam” $15,000 out of the $50,000 she was expected to pay in order to buy back her freedom in Russia.
She said she regretted her trip to Russia, adding that she wouldn’t have thought about it in the first place if she had had the opportunity to go to school in Nigeria.
She appealed to Edo State government to encourage young girls to go to school or learn skills.
The British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, said at the roundtable that “4000 to 6000 times, some Nigerian girls are forced to have sex with strangers for the rest of their lives.”
Mrs. Beaufils called for immediate action that could help end human trafficking.
The Senate president, Mr. Saraki, thanked the victims for sharing their experiences which he said would help the government take steps towards tackling human trafficking.
Mr. Saraki said the Senate was ‘losing sleep’ over irregular migration and human trafficking in the country, and that as representatives of the people, “they are determined to tackle the problem.”
He said, “Nigeria currently ranks 23 on the Global Slavery Index of 167 countries with the highest number of slaves.
“Human trafficking is third in the ignoble hierarchy of the commonly occurring crimes in Nigeria, according to UNESCO.”
Continuing, Mr. Saraki said, “Nigeria accounts for the world’s highest number of irregular migrants going through the Agadez Route. Our citizens represent the fifth largest number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
“The number of Nigerian females arriving in Italy alone increased 600-fold in just three years. 10,000 Nigerians are estimated to have lost their lives on the perilous journey in five months of last year alone.
“We have seen the bleak images of coffins of 26 Nigerian girls, who were laid to rest in Italy last November. This is what brings us today to ancient Benin.”
The Senate president thanked the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, for “his determined leadership in the face of the crisis” and for hosting the roundtable.
“This roundtable is designed to help answer some of the niggling questions. To identify root causes and the various dimensions of the problem,” he said.
Mr. Obaseki said human trafficking was at variance with the culture of Edo State.
He said the state government has adopted a policy of not penalising any returnee who had been trafficked.
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