“I Was Used As Sex Slave In Gao, Mali For Over Six Months ,” Human Trafficking Victim Says
(LINA) – A 28 year-old Liberian lady only identified as Lovetee, who is a victim of human trafficking, has revealed how she was used as sex slave for over six months in the Malian City of Gao, where she was trafficked by a Nigerian woman called Ngozee.
“We were forced to have sex with three to four men every night. The mandate was to make sure a packet of condoms (12 pieces) is finished every night. It was a matter of must that we had sex with the men, and if you refuse you will be flogged and deprived of food,” Lovetee narrated sobbing profusely.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Liberia News Agency (LINA) in Monrovia recently, Lovetee explained that her quest for finance to support her daughter and also seek higher education led her to finding a job.
According to Lovetee, she was introduced to the Nigerian lady who had a wig shop in the commercial district of Red Light by a male friend called Enoch.
“Because of my activeness, the lady employed me in her shop. She started me with US75.00 monthly. I was happy with the job because I had nothing to do to support my little daughter after her father died,” human trafficking victim said.
Additionally, Lovetee indicated that after three months of service, the woman encouraged her to move to Morocco on grounds that she wanted Lovetee to manage the branch of the business in that Arab country since she now understood the business.
Lovetee revealed that she was excited with the idea and accepted immediately; thinking that the job would afford her higher wage than the one in Liberia since it was an international one.
“She gave me US$400.00 to travel by road, while she flies by plane to Morocco. She also gave me a number to call when I reached Bamako (Mali). I started my journey from Red Light Market to Ganta, NZerekore, and Kankan until I got to Bamako,” Lovetee narrated.
She asserted that upon reaching Bamako, Ngozee sent three men to meet her at the Algeria parking station in Bamako, where she and an additional six girls, all Nigerians, were informed that they were to be taken to the lady’s base in Gao.
“Upon reaching the village in Gao, Ngozee took away our phones and locked us up in a fenced compound with instruction that we should not leave the enclosure, stating: “You are not allowed to get out until I can instruct you to do so. This is the job I brought you here for,” Lovetee quoted her ‘slave master’ as saying.
She bemoaned that she worked in the compound of the Nigerian lady for six consecutive months as a sex slave, adding: “I had sex every night with more than two men for six months.”
She reflected: “My worst time there is to see myself going out with filthy men from the gold mine against my will.”
Lovetee added that two of her friends; Muna and Blessing died in the trafficking facility because of the poor condition they were held under.
According to her, she and her other friends escaped from the area with the help of the security guards whom they offered bribe.
Also, Lovetee said upon their escape, she and her friends went to the headquarters of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the help of two distinct Liberians she identified as Ansu and Prince.
She stated that the IOM authorities in Mali took their particulars and repatriated them to Liberia, making available US$94.00 for each person repatriated home.
In related development, Lovetee revealed that the IOM authorities in Liberia promised to make available US$1,600.00 to each person repatriated to help them start a new life.
“The idea about us starting a new life did not go as intended, because the IOM office in Liberia encouraged us to credit from a store with an interest rate. Every US$15.00 we credit we pay US$5.00 interest. For every US$15.00 we pay US$20.00,” Lovetee told LINA.
Also, Lovetee lamented that the tormenting sex life she suffered back in Gao has created serious body discomfort, stressing that she can no longer sit up for more than 30 minutes.
She added that her life is now in disarray because of the trauma associated with what she experienced back in Gao, Mali.
Lovetee is calling on humanitarians as well as institutions to come to her aid and help her restart her life.
Meanwhile, Tamba Siafa, the IOM Focal Person in Liberia for Stranded Migrants told the Liberia News Agency (LINA) that his institution is not aware of any agreement between returning migrants and any merchant regarding credit with interest.
He narrated that migrants are given the choice to decide what they want to do as a way of reintegrating into their various communities as a means of making them important in the society.
Siafa clarified that the IOM office in Liberia instructs migrants returning to Liberia to get a proforma invoice from three different stores that deal in the commodity they wish to get involved with for doing business.
According to Siafa, IOM uses the cash invoice submitted by the migrants to make payment for the goods the beneficiaries wish to sell to a reputable store that is in compliance with all Government regulations.
He told LINA that at a certain point, they had a number of stores in their database that were dealing in various commodities and could no longer register other stores.
“As such, when migrants come into the country, we ask them to go to any of those stores and get a Proforma invoice of the business they wished to do. We have a number of stores dealing in Dry Goods, Electronics, Cosmetics, Lappas and so many stores registered in our database that they could choose from to start a business,” Siafa explained.
However, Siafa revealed to LINA that migrants do not do their own arrangements with business owners where they credit physical cash on an interest basis.
“When we pay the money to those businesses, the business people will deduct the money they borrowed them. At times, they credit a lot where nothing sufficient is left with them upon the deduction process,” Siafa maintained.
He asserted that the IOM has tried its best to discourage migrants against crediting money from the business people on grounds that it will not do them any good but rather worsen their financial condition.
“We always tell them to hold on until the money arrives so that they can get their goods in full and do the business that will help them transform their lives for the better,” Siafa said.