One more Nigerian sex trafficking victim home, three more to follow next week

Forget coronavirus and take a moment to celebrate the effects of your generous donations!

It’s been a busy week in Dubai. Last Saturday we connected with two of the remaining three girls we have been searching for from the original apartment. We connected with girl three, who is choosing to stay and work in Dubai having escaped, some weeks ago. She was finally able to trace the other two and we moved all three to an Airbnb on Wednesday whilst we made a plan.

These two girls are critical to the NAPTIP case against the traffickers they have in custody in Benin. They were also able to provide us with vital evidence to pass on to the case officer ahead of their return to Lagos.

We then connected to a fourth girl on Thursday, this time from the second apartment where there are ten victims. She had been promised a job in a supermarket. After the death of her mother she came to Dubai looking to support her family in Delta State, Nigeria. Instead, she ended up being put to work for sex and was badly beaten and repeatedly raped by the son of the Madame.

The fourth girl told us that there is one victim who escaped the second apartment last week but we don’t know where she went to. We are looking for her. The remaining 10 are there by way of juju and do not want to risk leaving for fear retribution to them and their family.

Four Nigerian victims to be repatriated

And like busses, along came girl five! We have been in touch with girl five for some weeks now. We were put in touch with her via the Lagos office of a German Charity, SOLWODI who works with prostitutes in Germany. As an aside, the legalisation in 2016 of prostitution in Germany led to an upsurge in the trafficking of Nigerian women to the country.

Girl 5 is very important as she opens an entirely new case for NAPTIP. She went to Dubai willingly to work as a prostitute but when she got there was enslaved, had a “debt” placed on her and her passport was removed. She got sick upon arrival, the madame wouldn’t pay for treatment, she wasn’t able to work and was repeatedly beaten. She went into hiding and took some considerable coaxing to join the other girls at the apartment.

We spent this week working with the Nigerian consulate in Dubai who after some 30 plus attempts to get the phone answered is now on personal speed dial. We have three direct contacts in the Consulate and they could not have been more helpful and compassionate. Three of the victims had no passport or visa but we have been able to fund their overstay costs required before they can leave.

Throughout this process, it has been our aim to keep the girls out of the police system where they would more than likely have been treated as criminals. Whilst it’s tempting to think that the girls who went to Dubai knowingly deserved what they got, ultimately they too were deceived, beaten and raped.

One of the girls flew home to Nigeria this morning and we hope three more will return on Wednesday. We have some further logistics to navigate but we’re optimistic for them. Dubai is a tough place to navigate with no visa, money or passport. You have to rely on friends and the black market as these three assets are required for virtually every transaction for basic comfort – renting a room, collecting wired cash and buying a SIM card. And to make life harder, UBER is only permitted to work in certain areas in Dubai making the transport of victims with no passport, visa, SIM or cash from 4,500 miles away a challenge.

It’s been an intense few weeks but your money has bought accommodation, transport, phones, visas, plane tickets, food and clothes for four women (six in all so far)  to return home for a second chance. Its opened two cases for NAPTIP, put three people in custody with more to follow. Thank you for your support. We have the capacity to support more women and a great and willing network on the ground to help and steer genuine cases to us.

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