Disgraceful:Nigeria teenagers in slave prostitution across West Africa as nation plans to stop the shame

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Thousands of Nigerian young girls are finding economic solace in prostitution in many West African neighbouring countries, creating the most embarrassing international image nosedive for Nigerian government.

According to reports, many of the girls are lured into the unenviable profession as they fall prey to underworld women who pretend to be seeking a greener pasture for in Europe and in the process supported them through false documentation to go to Europe.

The teenies however after crossing the border are whisked to West African neighbouring countries where they are taken to rented apartments to trade in prostitution, according to reports.

Only last month, ‘Human Rights Watch’the International human rights organisation had claimed Nigerian women and girls are being used for brisk businesses in  the neighbouring Ivory Coast where they are forced into prostitution and untold human degradation.

An HRW report released on  Friday August 27  says that dozens of Nigerian woman had been trafficked after being deceived with promises of a better life in other West African countries.

The international human rights organization says victims were between the ages of 15 and 17 or younger  and are so vulnerable because of financial circumstances.

The report says victims are forced to have sex with 15 to 30 men a night at 1,000 CFA francs ($2) per visit.

However, media reports claimed recently how a civil war had raged between Nigerian young girls feuding with their Ghanaian counterparts in Ghana over the spoiling of their business.

The latest embarrassment however is coming with reports that Thousands of Nigerian future hopes are in the West African country of Mali, engaging in prostitutions.

According to the Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) The girls, many of them under age, have often been promised jobs in Europe but ended up in brothels.

The brothels are run by older Nigerian women who prevent them from leaving and in most cases withhold their earnings as a plot to keep them I n trade.

The agency said it was working with Malian police to free the girls and help them return to Nigeria.

There has been no official comment from the Mali authorities but illegal trade of Nigerian girls littering West African countries have made headlines across the world.

Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (Naptip) said officials visited Mali this month to follow up “horrendous personal experience reports” from victims, aid workers and clergymen  in Mali.

They said there were hundreds of brothels, each housing up to 200 girls, run by Nigerian “madams” who force them to work against their will and take their earnings.

“We are talking of thousands and thousands of girls,” Simon Egede, Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, told a news conference in Abuja.

“We are talking of certainly between 20,000 and about 40,000,” he said, but did not give details of how the figure had been reached.

In a statement, Mr Egede said girls were “held in bondage for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation and servitude or slavery-like practices”.

“The madams control their freedom of movement, where they work, when they work and what they receive,” he said.

Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons
Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons

Abortion clinics

The trade is centred around the capital Bamako and large cities, but the most notorious brothels are in the mining towns of Kayes and Mopti, where the sex workers live in “near slavery condition”, said NAPTIP.

Many of the brothels there also had abortion clinics where foetuses were removed by traditional healers for use in rituals, said Mr Egede.

Most of the girls were reported to have come from Delta and Edo States in Nigeria.

Many were lured with the promise of work in Europe, given fake travel documents and made to swear an oath that they would not tell anyone where they were going.

On arrival in Mali they were told they would have to work as prostitutes to pay off their debts. Prostitution is legal in Mali but not if it involves minors.

Naptip said it had also uncovered two major trafficking routes used to transport the women from Nigeria through Benin, Niger or Bukina Faso to Mali.

Mr Egede said Naptip was working with the police in Mali to return the girls to Nigeria safely, shut down the trade and prosecute the traffickers.

The BBC’s Caroline Duffield in Lagos said the Edo State region of Nigeria in particular had become notorious for prostitution, with thousands of women and girls leaving every year to make money as sex workers.

But the suggestion that there was an organised ring of older women operating as traffickers – and that they were tricking younger women into leaving – was new, said our correspondent

The case of human trafficking out of Nigeria has concerned the government which actually passed anti-trafficking laws that focus on human smuggling to other West African countries, Europe and the United States but not Ivory Coast.

While Ivory Coast has been left out of the banned cities remains a matter to clarify by the government