Brenda was like any other Nigerian adolescent girl. She had a normal family and attended a good secondary school.
Things began to change when her Father was diagnosed with Colon cancer. He was always in and out of the hospital; at a point, he had to be placed on constant admission. The family kept spending, trying to save his life. Brenda’s mum had to sell their cars and most of her valuable jewelries to keep up with the swelling hospital bills.
Despite all the suffering and pain the family went through, her dad still died, fifteen months after been diagnosed with cancer.
The anguish was nearly unbearable. The family was plunged into extreme financial hardship. Relatives of Brenda’s late dad ignored them and refused to help. Brenda had to quit school to help her ‘struggling’ mum and siblings. (She was 14 years old and in Basic eleven). Taking her mother’s advice, she decided to learn a skill, tailoring, so she could support her family.
She had been working as an apprentice for four months when something happened, that changed her life forever.
She was sitting at a corner of the shop one sunny afternoon, crying when a client entered. She hurriedly dried her eyes and came to attend to the woman. The woman had noticed her crying and wanted to know what her problem was and why she wasnt in school. She briefly explained her condition to the ‘kind’ woman. The woman introduced herself as Mrs. Caroline. Mrs Caroline told her that she helped young girls like her get decent jobs and take care of their families. She promised to help and and handed her a note containing her contact details.
“Make sure you call me,” she said and left. Brenda was overjoyed. She rushed home to tell her mum.
Brenda called Mrs Caroline and they arranged a meeting at her house. When Brenda got there, she saw other young girls like her and she was convinced that the woman wanted to help them. Mrs Caroline welcomed her and directed her to sit with the other girls. Mrs Caroline later came to address the girls. She told them that they were going to leave the country to work and they would earn enough money to take care of their families. Most of the girls had objections. Brenda said she would have to inform her mother of the new development. Mrs Caroline shut them up, ” You all will have to do as you’re told or face the consequences!” Brenda was shocked by her outburst. Mrs Caroline left.
Later, the girls were given food and they continued to wait. At about 10:00pm, Mrs Caroline re-appeared with three heavily built men and another woman. She murmured something to the other woman and turned to face the girls.
“Okay, pick up whatever you have, we are ready to leave” Brenda couldnt believe her ears, she didn’t even have any of her personal belongings with her. The men directed the girls to move. Some did. Others, like Brenda who hesitated where slapped and roughly pushed.
They were directed to a bus outside. Brenda knew something was terribly wrong. She wondered where they were going and what they were going to do.
She thought of her mother and siblings, silently praying that she would soon be able to get back to them. The bus started to move. She looked around, there were about 13 girls in the bus. She realized that Mrs Caroline wasn’t in the bus and she became more frightened. She began to feel sleepy.
She was woken up by a commotion. It was morning already. The girls were demanding to know where they were going. The other woman who had been with Mrs Caroline the previous night asked the girls to shut up. Those who disobeyed were seriously beaten by the men. No girl had the nerve to talk again. The bus continued to move. Some of the girls where crying silently. Some minutes before midday, the girls where each given two slices of bread and a satchet of water. That was all they ate for the whole day. They journeyed throughout the day.
As days passed, the girls continued to travel, they passed through forest areas, swampy areas and desert areas. The girls later learnt that they were going to Libya. (It had been six days since they had left Lagos, Nigeria. So many things happened during the journey. They were constantly hungry and thirsty. They didn’t take their baths. Two girls fell ill and died and their bodies where simply dumped in the desert. Some girls were raped and beaten when they attempted to protest. They constantly passed through the desert where they saw dead bodies and sometimes fighting broke our between rebels. Brenda was horrified, scared and had totally lost hope. She knew that they were traveling illegally to another country and it was a case of human trafficking. She didn’t know what to expect when they finally got to Libya but she knew it was nothing pleasant.
Finally, after weeks of travelling, they got to Libya. The woman, Mrs Caroline’s friend told them that they would be going to different places to work. She split the girls into three groups and assigned a man to each group. She further explained that the men would be taking them to their places of ‘work’. Brenda knew what the men were capable of, they had raped and beaten some girls during the journey. So, she silently obeyed. The man took her and the three others in her group. They boarded a taxi. When they alighted, the man took them to a small bungalow. He introduced them to a lady who stared at them, as if examining then before nodding. The man collected some money from the lady and left.
In the evening, the lady called them together and gave them some food.
“Do you girls know what you are here for?” the lady asked
“Yes,” Brenda replied, “we are here to work. I’m a tailor”
The lady smiled wickedly.
” I dont know what you have been told but you are here to work for me and your work starts tonight!”
” but we are so tired. We just survived a terrible journey,” one of the girls objected.
The lady hissed. “You girls are now my property. You were paid for! Go to your rooms are prepare for work! The men would be arriving around 10pm.”
“Men?” Brenda queried.
“Yes!” the lady retorted, already impatient, ” you little prostitutes would be servicing my men!”
Brenda was shocked! She couldnt believe this. They had been sold for sex.
“Never! I will do no such thing,” she said boldly.
“We shall see,” the lady said and walked away.
Later that night, a man came to Brenda’s room. She bluntly refused to do anything with him. The man left and returned with the lady and another man.
“She’s one of the stubborn ones,” the lady said. “Deal with her.” The lady went out.
The men pushed her to the bed. She was screaming and kicking furiously.
“You’ll simply get tired. No one will hear you,” one of the men said. She continued screaming and crying.
The men gagged her and tied her hands to the bed post. They then tied her legs apart and tore off her clothes. She was completely helpless and vulnerable.
The men raped her. The pain was intense. (She was a virgin)
After them, many other men came to violate her that night. She lost count of them.
Her life and future had been shattered. She felt like killing herself. She wept until tears no longer came.
*This is a true life event. Names were however changed for privacy purposes.
Many girls all over the world especially in Africa and Asia are going through something similar.
None of these girls deserve to suffer. They are supposed to be educated and empowered to pursue their dreams.
Let’s rise up and say no to human trafficking and modern day slavery.