HIV, Human Trafficking And Staying Alive 1

"I sleep with at least 10 men per night, the most I have slept with is 17 per night. On some good days, 14..."



The Client who wishes to be known and addressed as Bella (not real name) hails from Ekpoma in Edo State.

At 17 while I was in SS 3, I was gang-raped by 3 men on my way back from School. This experience left me so devastated; I felt this was the end of the world, but somehow, I managed to pull through. This was how I lost my virginity. Back home, things weren't so rosy, but it was manageable until one day a certain woman came home and told my mother she was looking for a young girl that will manage her big hairdressing saloon in Cotonou.


My parents on hearing this readily gave me out to the woman as things were tough.


On arriving at the woman's House in Nigeria in preparation of our trip to Cotonou I met another young girl like me who was also told she will be going for the same purpose as me. I thought to myself she ‘may be the saloon is very big and she needs more hands'.


The woman was all nice during our stay at her house in Nigeria. She never failed to inform us about the weather, the beaches, the currency, the nightlife and the greener pastures awaiting us in Cotonou and how we will be meeting WHITE PEOPLE. She’d always say ‘of course we have white people…’

A week Later I was surprised when the woman sat both of us down and asked us if we are virgins. I readily answered no, trusting her with the incident that occurred some 3years ago. She showed great Concern and she made me feel she cared. The other girl too wasn't a virgin.  The next thing after the information was made known to us, we went for an HIV test. She informed us that this was a necessity for us to travel out of Nigeria.  Out of  excitement, we agreed. We never thought of any other possible thing or instances ahead.

Arrival at Cotonou, Benin Republic

On arrival that evening, we were nicely treated. The next day we were told that we will resume at the shop. I was excited I was going to be working in a big shop in another country that I couldn’t sleep at night. I imagined working already and putting my best.
 
The next morning I woke very early out of enthusiasm, showered and prepared for work, but Madam was still sleeping. Later on, around 12 when Madam woke up, she wasn't talking shop anymore; she asked where I was dressing to go to which I answered shop. To my greatest surprise,  Madam said ‘I don't want to tell you how much you will pay me to gain your freedom, but you will work for me for 2years then you'll gain your freedom’.



I was still lost, I didn’t understand what Madam meant by this. The only thing that crossed my mind was the apprentice arrangement (where you serve someone after which the person will free you) but the explanation was done clearly that evening when the other girl left with Madam around 6 to a different spot and she was taken to Jonquer to work for Madam.


This is not how I wanted my life to be. I was raped and now, this?


 That's how I began working for my Madam.  I became a prostitute. As I'm talking to you, my lower abdomen has seriously been aching me for months now, I haven't gone to the hospital, but I'm drinking some traditionally-prepared medicine.

Why didn't you run when you found out what you are going to be doing in Cotonou?

In my house, feeding is hard, leaving was a relief, going back will be a hard thing to do. I don't enjoy this work I'm doing but I'll be free next month, so I'm just going to clean up and work genuinely. I can't advise any young person to follow my path., I wish I can inform the whole world my story. Our government should come and see what we are passing through here.

How many men do you sleep with?

At least 10 in a night, the most number I have counted is 17 a night  some good days  14 and so and on bad days 7

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is contacting HIV, most times, some men are so rough that the Condom breaks in me.




When last did you go for an HIV Test?

Test Ke? We aren't allowed to leave the house let alone go for any test, but the God I worship who knows that I'm not doing this from my heart will not allow me to be infected with HIV?


This interview was conducted by Blez Inyang, the Convener and Peer Educator of BlezInyang Foundation. He is a Nigerian and he lives Cotonou, Benin Republic. The story is in no way fiction. His foundation creates awareness for HIV/ AIDS. He is an advocate for gender, HIV/AIDS and human trafficking.

Gift Wogu on the other hand is particularly interested in gender and human trafficking. She has published a novel on human trafficking which is available in print and on Okadabooks.

Comments

  1. People go through so much in this life, the poor especially. I hope the Blez guy also finds ways to send help their way.

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    Replies
    1. He's trying to, but the sad part is most of them do not want help and they never reveal the identity of their traffickers. According to Blez, most of the times, he is harassed sexually by these girls.

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  2. Sad that this is the case for a lot of ladies in Nigeria.

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    Replies
    1. It's poverty and lack of exposure. Parents are supposed to run a proper background check before giving their kids out in the name of working abroad.

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  3. This is so sad. I doubt the woman would set her free. God please help her.

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    Replies
    1. I doubt either. I don't know why they protect their traffickers this way.

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    2. For now, they're not aware. The moment it dawns, cooperation would be easy.

      My hopes are on her staying alive.

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  4. There's a fifty fifty chance that the woman will not let her go after next month😴😪. She is so relaxed and doesn't seem to need help at this point. But literally she's not herself and she really needs that help. Moreso, the perpetraitors should be brought to book. That's one of the ways to end human trafficking. No serious punishment has been implemented for this henious acts, hence its utter continuity. I feel sorry for her and all other involved victims. Life is indeed hard for people. Bless God for urs and ur freedom too

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    Replies
    1. Thanks you so much Maraya for leaving a comment. God bless you.

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  5. It's sad to know that young girls still pass through these ordeals. It's even sadder that most mothers give out their daughters in the name of searching for greener pastures without a thorough background check.

    I hope she gets through this, she really needs help.

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  6. WOTCLEF should do to Benin what it accomplished in Nigeria through the now silent NAPTIP.


    On the other hand, this is painful because she was signed off by her parents who because of 'poverty' did not care to understand the terms of their child's leaving.

    I'd rather retail garri in my parents house sha.

    Now this story has come to us, Is it not for a cordinative evac to be carried out on all trafficked girls?

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    Replies
    1. We are definitely working on trying to help. Most of them do not want to be helped anyway.

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  7. Why is it that this sex thing is particular to the Edo people! Something should really be done about this to save those girls.

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    Replies
    1. Giving their parents good orientation and trying to empower them is the solution.

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  8. Wow! So this kinda happens in this modern age? Unbelievable!

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  9. Some parents do some mistakes at times. But no matter the situation parents find themselves, they should not use their kids to solve their problems. And also awareness has to be created among our parents especially those living in remote areas about the dangers of giving out their kids to those kind of people.

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    Replies
    1. The thing is most of these parents know what their kids are going to be doing, but they turn a blind eye. I understand that most of them are not aware too. They need to be given the proper orientation especially with regards to how trafficking affects the child mentally, emotionally psychologically, sexually and otherwise.

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  10. This is pathetic but we keep hoping for the best. Nice write up Gift... And may God keep using the blezinyang foundation to help these girls.

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  11. They don't expose their traffickers because they may have been treaten and warned not to do so if they love their lives. They may even come in from spiritual angle just to shut them all up.

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  12. This is so sad. The reality most girls live is really alarming. The ministry of women affairs, Waptik and other agencies should be notified.

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