Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heart of Darkness: the modern-day African slave trade

Original Article By Ruona Agbroko

Standing just outside the town hall in Egor local government council, Edo State, Caroline Osasu did not allow NEXT talk to her daughter. This is not surprising. Mrs. Osazu mumbles in pidgin English that she agreed to this interview in the first place, only because the ‘fixer’ was her close friend.

“I can explain a little. I cannot just explain everything because...” she stops midway, as her eyes fill with tears. Fair-skinned, with some wrinkles, beautiful, though impoverished, this mother of seven won’t even look me in the eyes as we speak. She often retreats into a shell of silence; quite like the big snails she sells at Egor market for a meagre living.

Mrs. Osasu was approached by a family friend who said she wanted to “help” her 22-year-old daughter ‘travel out’. Her first child, whose name she did not reveal, worked for 10 months in Spain as a prostitute before she was deported two months ago.

She is just one of thousands of Nigerian females trafficked into the international sex trade yearly. According to the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, (NAPTIP), about 10,000 Nigerian girls, aged between 13 to 17 years, are either in jail or held captive by sex-slave lords in Morocco and Libya, with a high percentage of them being indigenes of Edo State.

About that same number of females are also reportedly living and working in Italy as prostitutes. Adefunke Abiodun, Head, Benin zone of NAPTIP, said that within Africa, Nigeria is the largest single source of trafficked women to Europe and Asia. “It is a lucrative business for the trafficker, their recruiters... in fact, everyone, except the girls concerned”.

Mrs. Abiodun said although some girls were willing to get involved in the trade, they had no choice regarding which country they would end up in—or how life-threatening and lengthy their journeys would be. Only few go by air. And even then, they do so after going by road to other African countries (Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and South Africa) and may reach Europe by train.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article, but what it doesn't say is that Human Trafficking is the largest growing criminal activity in the world. It is currently estimated by the UN that there are 27 Million people enslaved in the world today.
    The people that are switching to Human Trafficking are mainly gun-runners and drug pushers.
    They asked themselves "why sell a packet of drugs or a gun once, when you can sell a human being over and over again?"
    No wonder it's the fastest growing criminal activity........
    You can find out more where there are important links on my website and also learn more about my new book on the subject - svetna.....
    John Stack