staff of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in
Persons [NAPTIP], has revealed exclusively that some parents actually
encourage their daughters to travel to Europe to become sex slaves, so
they could send money to them.
The NAPTIP official, Esther Otegheri who revealed this shocking fact
to Pulse, said many of the sex slaves the agency have managed to rescue
in some European countries like Italy, Russia, Germany, and Spain, claim
that their parents pushed them into the trade.
Otegheri also posited that some parents go as far as providing the
money for their wards to travel out or take them to shrines to swear to
oaths that they will not abandon the sex trade when they get to Europe.
“It will shock Nigerians to know that most of the girl who gets
trafficked to Europe to engage in prostitution are often encouraged or
pushed into it by their own parents,” Otegheri begins.
Otegheri who was one of the NAPTIP officials who just came back from
Europe where they managed to rescue some girls who were trafficked for
the sex trade, said that some girls they rescued are as young as 13 and
most of them had undergone untold hardship and were exposed to various
kinds of diseases.
“I wept bitterly when we saw some of these girls who were as
young as 13 roaming the streets of Europe soliciting for men to have sex
with them for money.
They have these madams whom they report to and any money they
make is used to offset the debts they owe the madams or send back home
for their parents to pay off the people they borrowed to send them to
There are girls aged 13, 14 and 15 on the streets of Europe,
selling themselves for money. They are so young, vulnerable and having
terrible experiences. Some of them are exposed to sexually transmitted
diseases because many of the patrons prefer sleeping with them without
Only the strongest of hearts would not cry when you see them or
hear their stories. Many of them go through harrowing experiences before
they get to Europe all in the name of making a living for themselves
and their families.
In the course of our investigations, we discovered the routes
these traffickers operate from and it would break your heart to see what
they go through.
We discovered that some of these young victims go through the
border between Sokoto and Bori Koni in the Niger Republic while some
trek through the deserts taking the Katsina
Maradi-Niamey-Ouagadougou-Mali, on to Libya before crossing the
Mediterranean sea into Europe.
We also discover that majority of the victims are trafficked
through Lagos to Cotonou for onward trafficking to Europe, with the
connivance of Immigration and Customs officials.”
It has been discovered that Nigerians make up the biggest nationality
crossing the Mediterranean in smuggling boats launched from Libya, and
many of the migrants are girls and young women who are destined for the
“Many of the girls come from very poor families and the parents
feel the only way they can come out of their poor status is if their
daughters could travel Europe and engage in prostitution. That is how
low most of our parent’s reason.
Many of the girls have not been to school or have very little
education, so they are easily taken advantage of. They dream of a better
life in Europe, they see Italy as a paradise.
You will be surprised to hear some parents even boasting about
their daughters who are in Europe and when you ask them what the girls
do, they will be proud to tell you that they are hustling.
For them, hustling means one thing: prostitution. They are not ashamed to say it and it is very pathetic.
Some of these girls have little or no idea where they are heading
or what they would do when they are being trafficked out of Nigeria.
They don’t know the danger in front of them only to realize it when they
get to a point of no return, and they would have no option but to fall
They are forced into prostitution and if they refuse, they are beaten up, detained and threatened with juju. It is very sad.”
Otegheri also pointed out that the victims of the sex trade live in
terror of the madams who run them, as well as organized Nigerian gangs
who operate as a mafia team and are used to whip the girls into line.
“The madams are like demi-gods, and they control the girls in
every way imaginable, from beating, torture, illegal imprisonment and
threats of death.
There are also Nigerian gangs organized like the Mafia and they
are used by the madams to intimidate, abuse and terrorize the girls.
The gang often kidnap the girls, rape them and force them into the streets to solicit for men.
Even some local churches are not left out in the trafficking. We
have arrested some so-called pastors ho run these trafficking trade.
They pretend to send these girls abroad to work when they know they are
being sent to become prostitutes.
Once the girls arrive in Italy or other parts of Europe, they are
made to sign agreements to pay back between 30,000 to 50,000 Euros to
the madams before they are free to be on their own.
Most of them can spend three to five years without being able to pay up the money, thereby living in perpetual bondage.
The exploitation of these minors by their parents and the
organized sex trade rings is rather pathetic. The way our government is
handling the matter is also not encouraging. We have advocated for these
rings to be smashed by all means but they still keep sprouting and it
The problems associated with human trafficking for the purpose of
engaging in prostitution is hydra-headed and the government needs to
take serious measures to checkmate it.
Some of the measures that have been advocated include investment in
quality education for the youths, sensitizing the people, especially
those in the rural communities to reach the most vulnerable people who
think traveling abroad is the one sure way of beating poverty.
The government should also create employment and skills acquisition
opportunities to enable the young girls to learn a trade because a large
number of the trafficked persons were lured into the act due to
unemployment and poverty.