In the news recently has been stories of enslaved migrants stuck in Libya, and the 26 girls who drowned in the Mediterranean sea, trying to cross from Africa over to Europe.
In a report by Milena Veselinovic and Isa Soares for CNN, we meet Anna (not real name), a 17-year-old girl from Edo State who was trafficked at the age of 15.
Anna, an orphan, was raised by a foster family, she said, and worked as a maid but dreamed of one day becoming a doctor.
She told me, when you come to Europe you’ll have opportunity, you will go to school, everything is going to be OK for you.
She said you can do whatever you want, the world there is very free. I was like, wow, that would be great. And she said, OK, maybe my sister can bring you. I was so happy, I wanted to go to Europe.
Things, however, didn’t go as smoothly as Anna imagined they would.
Arriving in Libya through Niger, she was held in a detention camp for 5 months, she said, where she was reportedly beaten and raped.
After her trafficker paid her ransom, Anna discovered she was pregnant. She however lost the baby after her smuggler gave her a liquid to drink. She said:
“I don’t even know how it happened. All I know is I was given a bottle of water and then I started bleeding. I was in a lot of pain. It was so painful.”When she finally arrived in Italy, she discovered she now owed her traffickers €35,000, and was made to become a sex worker, bringing in €200 daily. She said:
“They dressed me up, they make my hair, they make me up. I didn’t even know what they were doing. They gave me a bag with condoms.”Eventually, and luckily, Anna escaped, and is now being looked after by Progetto Integrazione Accoglienza Migranti (PIAM) – a migrant rights charity run by a Nigerian trafficking survivor, Princess Inyang Okokon.
“If a man sleeps with you the most he can pay is €30. Calculate how many men you have to sleep with to get that. You pay, pay, pay, and it never gets finished.”
Anna now knows better, and has words for people who wish to take the same leap as she did. She said:
“I would not advise anybody to take the same journey I took. Because I might have survived it, you may not survive it.”Words of warning
Turin deputy chief prosecutor Paolo Borgna, who spent years tackling the trafficking of Nigerian women, says that the girls who are forced into prostitution are getting progressively younger.
Borgna says it is difficult to get victims to report their exploiters to the police. He says the Italian state used to be able to offer the incentive of temporary legal residence to victims who came forward, but that’s no longer the case, as those claiming asylum now get a temporary residence permit while their claim is being evaluated — a process that can take years.
“What needs to be done, on an administrative level rather than on the judicial level, is to reduce the waiting time to grant or to deny the status of refugees,” says Borgna.
Though Becky counts herself lucky to have escaped the clutches of her traffickers, her ordeal haunts her, and she has been seeing a psychologist to deal with her trauma.
For those thinking of making the journey to Europe, the teenager has stark words of warning: “Many people, if you ask them not to come, they would not listen to you. Because they think that living abroad is the best life ever,” she says.
“Everybody wants to come here, everybody wants to see what it’s like. But it’s not what they think it is.
“I would not advise anybody to take the same journey I took. Because I might have survived it, you may not survive it.”
Source: CNN (Read Full Story on CNN)