It has been gathered that about 20,000 Nigerian victims of sex trade are trapped in Mali as the government is struggling to bring them back home.
Officials say collusion between law enforcement agents and traffickers is hampering the rescue efforts.
A video posted online revealed that thousands of the victims were kept in chattered shacks located at the outskirt of Kokoyo in western Mali.
Many girls said the human traffickers had promised them good lives with well paid jobs in Europe but found themselves trapped in Mali for sex trade.
Ranging from fourteen years old upward, the girls said they were forced to sleep with ten men per day. Some of them as young as 14 years were practically yanked off the street of Nigeria in their school uniforms, according to Aljazeerah.
A sixteen-year-old teenage mother, also a victim, related that she came to Mali through the Benin Republic. She had been promised by her trafficker a good househelp job in the Europe where she would make a lot from her trafficker but that was reversed immediately she stepped out of Nigeria, as the trafficker turned her to a sex slave. The 16-year-old girl now has a baby.
“I followed her because she (her trafficker) didn’t tell me that I am coming to do ‘ashewo’ (prostitution), and she said I should not tell anybody that I am travelling,” the teenage mother said.
The girls even said they were registered by the law enforcement in Mali on arrival. They added that they pay weekly dues to authorities as the government does not have issues with prostitution except it involves minors.
Having heard of the situation, the delegation of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) led by the boss, Julie Okah-donli, who visited some of the victims in Mali found it difficult to repatriate all the victims. The rescue efforts were being hampered due to the collusion between Malian law enforcement agents and the traffickers.
The traffickers in Kokoyo town of Mali made it clear that Nigerians trying to rescue their citizens trapped in the sex trade are “unwelcome”.
Even though some of the girls have paid off the traffickers of an aggressive sum of $2,000 (about N720 thousand), many were still trapped.