Nigeria’ anti-trafficking agency, NAPTIP, says it has found 20,000 to 45,000 kidnapped Nigerian women in southern Mali. Many of them were trafficked for sexual exploitation.
General Julie Okah-Donli, NAPTIP Director, said the women mostly came from rural areas of six different states in Nigeria.
“They were tricked into going to Mali by giving them the impression they were going to get jobs in hotels, for example,” said Okah-Donli. “Some were actually abducted while going to school.”
Al Jazeera reports:
“There are over one million Nigerian residents in Mali, out of which about 20,000 are trapped into forced prostitution. The conditions are horrible. They are kept in the thick of the forest where they cannot escape and with the ‘madames’ watching over them,” added Okah-Donli.
In 2014, armed group Boko Haram abducted more than 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, Nigeria.
The kidnapping captured the world’s attention, with celebrities and prominent personalities such as former US First Lady Michelle Obama joining a “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign to free them.
Around 2,000 girls and boys have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, many used as sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers, according to Amnesty International.
In a report last year from the US State Department, officials said that Nigerian victims of human trafficking had been found in around 40 different countries, noting that “80 percent of all female Nigerian migrants in Italy are or will become sex trafficking victims.”
Human traffickers operating in Nigeria are not limited to Boko Haram and other armed groups — Nigeria’s own armed forces have been at fault. The United Nations, in light of the country’s trafficking epidemic, criticized the government following a human rights mission investigating human trafficking.