The British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, has painted a worrisome picture of what Nigerian girls trafficked abroad go through in foreign lands.
Mrs. Beaufils, who was speaking on Monday in Benin City, Edo State, during a Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking organised by the Nigerian Senate, said, “4000 to 6000 times, some Nigerian girls are forced to have sex with strangers for the rest of their lives.”
Monitoring the proceedings of the roundtable through tweets from the Senate Twitter handle, @NGRSenate.
The deputy high commissioner said the situation called for immediate actions that could help end human trafficking.
There is need for a sense of urgency in tackling human trafficking in Nigeria, said the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen.
“This is after all about human beings and it is about shaping the collaboration between the EU and Nigeria,” Mr. Karlsen said.
The ambassador added, “What we need to be worried about is irregular migration and when people are trafficked. This is when criminals take advantage of the sons and daughters of Nigeria. Our responsibility needs to match the complexity of the challenge of human trafficking.”
The EU, he said, has already committed 47 million euros to the fight against human trafficking.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the Senate was ‘losing sleep’ over irregular migration and human trafficking in the country, but that as representatives of the people, ”they are determined to tackle the problem.”
Mr. Saraki said, “Nigeria currently ranks 23 on the Global Slavery Index of 167 countries with the highest number of slaves.
“Human trafficking is third in the ignoble hierarchy of the commonly occurring crimes in Nigeria, according to UNESCO.”
Continuing, Mr. Saraki said, “Nigeria accounts for the world’s highest number of irregular migrants going through the Agadez Route. Our citizens represent the fifth largest number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
“The number of Nigerian females arriving in Italy alone increased 600-fold in just three years. 10,000 Nigerians are estimated to have lost their lives on the perilous journey in five months of last year alone.
“We have seen the bleak images of coffins of 26 Nigerian girls, who were laid to rest in Italy last November. This is what brings us today to ancient Benin.”
The senate president thanked the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, for “his determined leadership in the face of the crisis” and for hosting the roundtable.
“This roundtable is designed to help answer some of the niggling questions. To identify root causes and the various dimensions of the problem,” he said.
Mr. Obaseki said human trafficking was at variance with the culture of Edo State.
He said the state government has adopted a policy of not penalising any returnee who had been trafficked.
Participants at the event listened to testimonials from victims of human trafficking.
One of the victims narrated her experience.
“Two days after I arrived Moscow, we started working. We would work every single day. It did not matter if we were having our period (menstruation) or not. We would have about six to seven clients per day.
“Prostitution was illegal in Russia and sometimes they would arrest us for two to three days. When I was barely five days, I was on the road and they called my ‘Madam’. They beat me up, raped me and urinated on me.
“I escaped when they slept off in the next morning. We paid our Madam for food, drugs, condoms and house rent,” she said.