American news outlet, CNN has exposed some Nigerian girls being forced into prostitution in Paris, the French capital.
The Nigerian girls, who according to the CNN were promised glossy times in France had high hopes leaving Nigeria to earn pastures greener overseas.
Sadly, the stern conditions they were exposed to in Paris have forced many of them to regret their actions, yet are helpless because of many threats posed by their traffickers.
In a post by CNN, it gave details of a girl, simply called Nadège from Edo State, who left Nigeria to earn better living conditions for herself and her family. Nadege explained how she was deceived to believing coming to Paris was the gateway to living a successful life.
She has been made to do unimaginable things and was made to swear to an oath to make her dealings with her traffickers a secret.
Read CNN’s post below;
A row of dirty vans is parked on a broad, tree-lined avenue in the outskirts of Paris. In the dark of night, fluttering candles light up the faces of the women in the front seats. None of them wear more than their underwear.
Others, wearing miniskirts, stand outside underneath street lamps, facing out onto the empty road.
Nadège was one of these women before she managed to escape.
She is softly spoken. “Even now I don’t have hope for myself,” she says. “My past already destroyed my future.”
The Bois de Vincennes, a sprawling park on the outskirts of eastern Paris, is home to horse riding schools and a zoo. It has also been part-commandeered by human traffickers.
The park’s central road is yet another point on the map of a massive cross-continental trafficking network that has channeled tens of thousands of Nigerian women and children throughout Europe and as far as Malaysia.
Like them, Nadège says she was trafficked from Nigeria to France and forced into sexual slavery, at €20 ($23) per client, to pay off a colossal debt to a female Nigerian pimp known as a “madam.”
‘I was told it was like a paradise’
Nadège, who could not give her real name for safety reasons, grew up in southern Nigeria. She says that when she was just six, she was raped by a group of neighbors. Her parents sent her to live with an aunt.
But Nadège says her aunt was murdered after refusing a local gangster’s marriage proposal for her niece. Nadège discovered her aunt’s dead body.
At 15, Nadège says, she was raped once again and had her first abortion.
Alone, she was easy prey for traffickers. A madam she met in Lagos promised her a better life in Europe, working as a waitress.
“I was told it was like a paradise,” Nadège tells CNN. “But getting here, it was like from frying pan to fire.”
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) says that recruitment for trafficking to Europe is strongly concentrated in Edo State, in southern Nigeria, the region where Nadège was born.
Before leaving, the madam made Nadège swear an oath at a “juju” temple with a native doctor of Ayelala — a traditional belief system from southern Nigeria.
Nadège swore to repay her madam for sending her to Europe, and to never speak of her oath, or her debt, to anyone. It’s the same for so many Nigerian women trafficked for sex.
Yehudi Pelosi, a lawyer who specializes in asylum law and human trafficking, said that as part of the ceremony the women are often forced to eat a kola nut and a chicken heart, and drink a concoction of gin and blood. Some of their pubic hair is taken, and their head, breasts and shoulders are often ritually scarred.
Charities working closely with the women say they are petrified of the oath’s power. Nadège was convinced that breaking it meant going mad or dying.
Families suffer, too. Charities say madams pay “cultists” — military-style gangs — to threaten and sometimes kill girls’ relatives back home.
“Your parents are not safe… I love my mum, I don’t want anything to happen to her,” said Nadège.
No passport, no money
Nadège described her journey to France. She flew on a commercial flight, with a fake passport her madam gave her. She was sent to work in the Bois a week after she arrived. She was 20 years old.
Her debt, she was told, was €50,000 ($57,690). Others pay €60,000 ($69,226).
Her madam gave her a €100 daily target and took away her passport and all her earnings, except money for food and rent.
“Sometimes you work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning, maybe get home by 8 a.m.,” she says.
By day, the Bois de Vincennes is popular with joggers and boules players.
She would start work again, elsewhere, from 3 p.m., she says. “Until 6 p.m., then you have to go to your normal place of work.”
Most of the Nigerian women working in the park are “slaves,” she says. “Some are free, but the prostitution has eaten deep into them.”
Nadège once asked a man why he came to the street, she says, wiping away a tear. “He said, ‘I’m a divorced man, so I have to make myself happy.'”
She says she is sure that he and the rest of the clients understood the Nigerian women’s situation.
By night, prostitutes work from vans parked at the roadside in the park.
Victims become ‘madams’
According to a lawyer who represents a charity that works with sex trafficking victims, senior prostitutes are often entrusted with new arrivals and may be given a cut of their earnings.
Some of these women may in time buy trafficked girls of their own to pimp out. They become madams to free themselves from prostitution and earn the European riches they were initially promised.
The madams form clubs — sometimes with Facebook pages — and throw big parties where they charge for entry, using the profits to buy more girls. Nadège says her madam had young women throughout Europe — from Spain to Russia.
Les Amis du Bus des Femmes (LABF), a charity that works with prostitutes in Paris, says the sex trafficking route from Nigeria to Paris has existed for 20 years. But since 2015 the charity has noticed increasing numbers of under-age Nigerians. It recently found girls as young as 12 working as prostitutes on the streets of Paris.