My Mother Gave Me Up For Prostitution



                               

If there is a better way to describe the gory experience that 16 year old Tina (not real name) had in Burkina Faso; perhaps it would have brought some kind of mental and emotional relief to her at this time of her life. It may interest you to know that she is presently an undergraduate in one of Nigeria’s topmost tertiary institutions, with many opportunities to explore in order to achieve great things. Unfortunately however, the reverse is the case for her because she is completely disillusioned about life and severed from her closest ties; her parents and family.
Like every young and upward looking young lady, Tina finished her secondary education at the age of 16. She was so full of life and hope for a bright and brilliant future. Her plan was to quickly proceed to the university to study law and thereafter pursue a radiant legal career. She also had dreams of raising a modest and enviable family of her own.
Little did she know that her parents had a completely different plan in the offing.  Barely one week after her School Leaving Certificate examination, a distant friend of her mother came visiting and after some secret talks with her parents, she was told that she would be traveling abroad with the woman. At first, she expressed shock and disapproval, especially because the whole plan was too sudden. After some persuasion however, she gave in after her mother assured her of a blissful life of pleasure, wealth and good education. Of course, as the first child of the family, she had always longed for a time when she would be financially strong and buoyant enough to redeem her parents and siblings from their impoverished standard of living. Convinced that her parents knew what was best for her, she saw the offer as a golden opportunity to give her family the much-needed raise and a new lease of life.
So, the next day, she left Makurdi for Lagos with Aunty Rachael (not real name). Few days later, they both traveled from Lagos in the company of another lady and the destination that was supposed to be America soon changed to Burkina Faso. Upon arrival, Tina’s first baptism of fire was that she was told that she would have to sell her body to earn enough money for the good life and education she desired.
Her outburst and threat after she heard this did not go down well with Aunty Rachael and she responded by giving her a good dose of slap to cow her to submission. Tina thought of calling her parents to report what had happened but she had no access to telephone. Few hours later she was dressed up for the business of the night. Her first client had a tough and rough deal as Tina was not ready to give away her virginity to a stranger. Despite her resistance, he managed to overpower her and deflower her. After him came other clients who took their turn to ravage Tina’s smooth and succulent body. That first night, a total of twenty two men had sex with Tina. The second night, there was a short fall as sixteen men had their feel of Tina’s body but by the third day, the number of clients had increased to twenty-three. By this time however, Tina had lost her mind and become temporarily insane.
Confused and battered, she wandered away from the house where she was kept, roaming the lonely street in the dead of the night, wailing and talking to herself. She was in a strange land, with nobody and nowhere to turn to. After some two hours of wandering about, she came across a pastor that was returning from night vigil prayers and offered to help a distressed young lady.
“Hello young lady! Why are you out at this time of the night? Where are you going?” asked the pastor. At first she was hesitant as she did not know whether he was another rapist or a sincere soul willing to help. When he persisted, Tina thought it wise to open up and tell her story. Upon hearing her tale of woes, the pastor took her in his car and headed straight to the Nigerian home office in Burkina Faso. There, she was provided  with temporary shelter. Two weeks later, she was sent back to Nigeria and handed over to officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for rehabilitation, protection and psycho-social care.
Expectedly, Tina did not want to go back to her parents and family. She did not want to be associated with them or any relative again as she could not trust them with her life and security. The feeling she had and still have is that of betrayal, pain and shame.
It has been four years since the horrific incidence. Today, Tina is 20, gradually regaining sanity and confidence. With the support from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons [NAPTIP] and other allied agencies advocating against human trafficking, she is back to school. And true to her dream, she is studying Law in one of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions. Her ambition, she says is to be a voice for the voiceless, especially abused girls and women and to fight against oppression and injustice at all levels.
Tina’s ordeal is one of the concerns of Women Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) as it seeks to sensitize and advocate against human trafficking.
Speaking recently at a media parley, the Director/Treasurer, Mr. Olakunle Adeogun argued that there is a direct link between poverty and under-development cum trafficking. According to him, “When a man/woman is idle, he/she becomes vulnerable and open to all forms of vices that present itself.”
Adeogun noted that “although WOCON seeks a situation whereby the rate of human trafficking will reduce drastically or better still be completely eradicated”, the dream will remain elusive until Nigeria is economically strong and viable.”
“The rate of human trafficking will reduce drastically if the country is good economically and socially. The more reason why WOCON is clamoring for information, sensitization and   empowerment of youths, with especial focus on the girl child. Our focus is more tilted towards the female gender because they are close to children and youths”, says WOCON boss.
Speaking further, he expressed concern at the fact that today, a worrisome proportion of young men are being trafficked outside Nigeria, adding that the trend has become very disturbing and should be given due attention by all stakeholders and governments at all levels.
“Sometimes they are lured with the promise that they are traveling for humanitarian purposes or that they are going to enroll in an academy for educational or sporting activities. Later, they are made to bargain for money as compensation but in most cases, the kingpins and barons do not tell these young men or women the real reasons why they are taking them abroad.”
He went on, “Other current trends in human trafficking are cases where innocent teenagers are being trafficked to other countries for reproductive purposes such as baby harvesting; egg harvesting, sperm harvesting, kidney sales etc. Of course, the kingpins have a lot of money to spend to woo the young men and women since many of these youths are jobless, idle, disgruntled and frustrated. In fact, apart from drug trafficking, human trafficking is about the next that brings in so much money.”
Adeogun further argued that, “Trafficking is a form of violence” but stressed that “once youths are kept busy and empowered, they are not likely to want to leave their country of abode in search of some golden flees somewhere.”
Also speaking on behalf of the Lagos Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Mrs. Rosemary Ndulue assured that the agency respects human dignity and human rights and would do anything to continue to protect survivors of trafficking and where necessary, also help reunite them with their families, even as they empower those families that are indigent so they don’t have to yield to the option of human trafficking again.









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