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‘They Slept With Us, Mistreated Us, Beat Us, And Shot People’, Recalls Nigerian Trafficking Survivor in a Chilling Account

The Nigerian survivor reveals chilling details in her account, saying 'too many' young migrant women and boys were shot because they resisted sexual advances of Libyan captors.

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An increasing population of Nigerians are illegally smuggled for prostitution.
'Beauty' (pseudonym), a Nigerian ex-prostitute at a social support centre for trafficked girls near Catania in Italy, Sept. 14, 2016. VOA
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Martinsicuro, Abruzzo, Italy, August 9, 2017: The thick-set 23-year-old Nigerian woman exudes strength, keen to overcome what she suffered in Libya and Italy before she escaped from the shadows in Rome and jumped on a train heading for Ancona on Italy’s Adriatic coast.

Not that she knew the train’s destination before boarding — she just wanted to flee her tormentors, run from beatings and sexual abuse. But it will take longer than a three-and-half-hour railway trip to forget the torments of the past.

Anna (the name she chose to protect her identity for security reasons) is one of more than 16,000 young Nigerian women — including many underage girls — who’ve been trafficked into Italy by Nigerian crime syndicates over the past two years, joining thousands of Nigerians who now make up nearly half of the street prostitutes working in Italy.

Prostitution

Many outreach workers suspect that most of the Nigerian girls, especially the more recent arrivals — although not all — knew before leaving Nigeria that their traffickers would put them to work as prostitutes. Many may have been sex workers before in Nigeria, something charity workers say shouldn’t matter when it comes to helping the women, arguing they are all abused and in need of compassion and help.

Sex trafficking cases are on a rise in Italy.
A Nigerian woman involved in street prostitution waiting at the main street in Castel Volturno. VOA

 

Either way, the trafficked women, they say, didn’t know how grueling their work would be in Italy, how appalling their living conditions, how poorly paid they would be and how long it would take them to pay off debts to traffickers, who charge the women upwards of $41,000 (35,000 euros) for the journey.

But staff at On the Road, an Italian charity that helps women break from sex work, say they don’t believe Anna was one of those who knew what she would be doing in Italy. They say she was duped.

Eight months after her escape from her “madame” Anna described her journey north from Nigeria’s Benin City through Niger and Libya. She is now living with nearly a dozen trafficked Nigerian girls in a shelter, going to school and learning Italian.

Libyan ordeal

Anna said she was raped repeatedly for almost two months just outside the Libyan town of Bani Walid. There she witnessed young migrant women and boys shot because they resisted the sexual demands of their Libyan captors.

She said she couldn’t give a precise number of those murdered but added, sadly, “Too many, too many.”

She made the journey to Italy because her uncle told her to go. After her parents died when she was 14-years-old, she and her three siblings — a brother and two sisters — lived with their uncle.

“He was not really taking care of us in the way he should. He is a drunkard and had no job. So we could barely afford a square meal a day. He always say we should leave his house,” she explained.

She did go to high school and was learning how to sew before she set off for Italy.

“One day my uncle came and said there was a woman who had a business here in Italy that needed someone to work with her. So he said I would go with the woman and work with her in Italy. So I had no choice.”

She never met the mysterious business woman, who she was told owned a supermarket, but did meet a woman who claimed to be the woman’s sister, who told Anna she would owe more than $47,000 (40,000 euros) for the journey and would have to pay it off.

Juju oath for debt repayment

Like thousands of other Nigerian women trafficked to Italy via Libya by Nigerian crime syndicates, she was taken to a voodoo priest to swear a juju oath to repay the debt.

After what she said was a rough journey through Niger, she and a group of Nigerian migrants arrived in Libya’s southern desert town of Sabha, spent a few weeks there before going to Bani Walid.

“When we got there, they put us in a compound guarded by many armed Arabs with many kinds of guns.” She recalled the scene with a shiver. “We don’t have anything to eat. You couldn’t escape. The place was secure.”

According to Anna, the compound was full of women, at least two hundred.

“They said we are going to Tripoli and they took us to a place that wasn’t far from the place where we were before and so I said to myself, ‘Tripoli is close to Bani Walid.’”

In fact, it wasn’t Tripoli and was only 10 minutes outside Bani Walid. They arrived at night and she was kept indoors for almost two harrowing, terrifying months.

“They slept with us, mistreated us, beat us, and shot people,” she said. “They killed many people — girls and boys, who refused to sleep with them. The people who refused to do what they asked, they killed them and threw them out of the place.”

Asked if she was raped, she responded: “I slept with several men, several times.”

A Nigerian Sex trafficking survivor shares chilling details of the trade.
A Nigerian sex worker mid conversation with a possible client on Via Bonifica, in Marche province of Italy. Authorities say one in every two sex workers on the roads of Italy are Nigerian. VOA

A smuggling chain

Let week, Amnesty International warned that “facilitating the interception and return of refugees and migrants to Libya results in their arbitrary detention in centers where they are at almost certain risk of being tortured, raped and even killed.”

Last year, Human Rights Watch interviewed 47 newly arrived migrants in Sicily who described severe abuses in Libya by government officials, smugglers and members of militias and criminal gangs.

With more women arriving, Anna’s captors moved her and her group along the smuggling chain. The smugglers’ inflatable boat, which Africans nickname balloon boats, capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Several migrants drowned before an Italian coast guard rescued the survivors, including Anna.

In Italy, she was moved from a reception center in Calabria to another in Torino, where she contacted the business woman’s sister In Nigeria and was told a man would come and collect her.

The man, a Nigerian, took her to a house in Rome, where a woman beat her when she refused to prostitute herself. She was warned of the voodoo consequences of breaking her oath to repay the debt. “Juju works,” she said. “It is our tradition.”

For a month she did as she was told, sleeping with men in a house overseen by an older Nigerian woman, who would receive the money from Anna’s clients. But even juju couldn’t keep her doing the work. At Ancona railway station, an Italian man spotted her, and drove her to the Catholic charity Caritas, which passed her to On the Road.

“What has happened, has happened,” she said. Now she wants to get on with her life. She said the traffickers are “giving my family problems, my siblings” and are threatening them.

“I can’t go back to Nigeria,” she said. “I hope I have a good life in my future.” (VOA)

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8 Largest Red Light Areas In India Where Only Prostitution Is Sustainability

According to a report, there is almost 10 million sex worker in India.

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The place Sonagachi holds the title of Asia’s largest red light area which is located in Kolkata. Wikimedia Commons
The place Sonagachi holds the title of Asia’s largest red light area which is located in Kolkata. Wikimedia Commons

The act of prostitution is going on since ages and it’s still a surviving occupation for many. For lots of girls, it’s a harsh reality but there is very little that they can do about it. Many of the girls are forced into prostitution and some have to choose it because they have no other place to go. Although, prostitution is illegal in India but it is certainly prevalent in our society.

The Land of Kama Sutra
Due to India’s legacy in sex and prostitution, there are some of the largest and infamous red light areas where prostitution is a way of living. Such a place automatically becomes a hot spot for many other criminal activities too. According to a report, there is almost 10 million sex worker in India. The prime clientele of prostitutes includes migrant workers or people who are staying away from their home.

The red light areas in India are the only means of keeping the body and soul together for many of the sex workers. Wikimedia Commons
The red light areas in India are the only means of keeping the body and soul together for many of the sex workers. Wikimedia Commons

There are many cases where a girl turns into prostitution just for the sake of raising some money for their respective families. Some girls are lured into good jobs in big cities and then they are been sold off to pimps and brokers at different brothels. The news of abduction of girls are very common in India and then no one knows whereabouts of them. In very few cases, the police are able to locate the victim.

Even in some cases, parents sell their babies to earn some quick bucks for a very paltry sum. The red light areas in India are the only means of keeping the body and soul together for many of the sex workers.

Take a look at the list of such red light areas situated in India:

Sonagachi, Kolkata
The place Sonagachi holds the title of Asia’s largest red light area which is located in Kolkata. Sonagachi is a mysterious place in itself. As per a survey, this place is home to almost 11,000 sex workers. The harsh reality of Sonagachi red light area is very hard to swallow. The Oscar-winning documentary, Born into Brothels, has brought out the very reality of this place.

Kamathipura, Mumbai
Kamathipura stands second, only after Sonagachi in terms of the number of sex workers working at a place. It is also the oldest red light area of Mumbai. The dilapidated condition of this place will send shivers to anyone visiting here for the very first. The place also houses a beedi factory in its surrounding been owned by women. The place is quite famous due to its visitors like Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim.

There the word Kamathis means workers and hence the place got its first name. Wikimedia Commons
There the word Kamathis means workers and hence the place got its first name. Wikimedia Commons

Kamthipura is also known by the name of Grant Road’s Red light Area. But initially, Kamthipura was known as Lal Bazaar because of its workers. There the word Kamathis means workers and hence the place got its first name. The number of sex workers has reduced to only a few thousand as compared to when it was started.

Budhwar Peth, Pune
Budhwar Peth shortly follows the Sonagachi and Kamathipura in the prostitution business. There are expected five thousand of sex workers working in the shabby lanes of Budhwar Peth.Other than prostitution, the place is also known for being a hub for electronic goods and books.

The shady lights of this red light area make it more difficult to survive and lack of law enforcement agencies adds more agony to it.

G.B. Road, Delhi
Almost every person who has ever visited Delhi must have come across the name of G.B. Road. The place is Delhi’s largest red light area and is quite famous for the hundreds of brothels along the streets.

The place also houses many vehicle parts, wholesale dealers. So, anyone who knows about this place is not necessarily related to prostitution.

Chaturbhujsthan, Muzaffarpur
Chaturbhujsthan is a red light area in Muzaffarpur and interestingly, this place is located right next to an old temple. People believe that this setup has been in continuation since ages and thus it makes sense as to why prostitution is still going strong.

The shady lights of the red light areas make it more difficult to survive and lack of law enforcement agencies adds more agony to it. Wikimedia Commons
The shady lights of the red light areas make it more difficult to survive and lack of law enforcement agencies adds more agony to it. Wikimedia Commons

Itwari, Nagpur
Itwari is a quite popular place among the sex workers and the criminals in Nagpur. In most of the red light areas, criminal activities and prostitution go side by side and this place is no different. The place is also known by the name Ganga Jamuna.

Shivdaspur, Varanasi
This red light area is intact since ancient times and this place is more like a village rather than a locality. But in the past couple of years, this place is seen losing its sheen due to lack of the number of sex workers. The village is home to many cheap brothels been run by the locals.

Baina, Goa
Goa being a holiday destination is supposed to cater the prostitution business and getting customers over here is not that difficult. Baina is a well-known red light area in Goa. Here, pimps bring the customer from bus stands, railway stations and markets, after that the deal is been made.

Although in 2004, the government raided all the properties of Baina beach and tried to root out the prostitution business but still it’s prevalent.