Whenever you feel you have it bad,
Whenever you feel things could be better,
Whenever you feel you aren’t where you feel you should be
Read this story, and be thankful for your situation.
At a first glance, she appears to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s, but LINDA (not her real name) is just a 15 year old girl, she was brought to this women’s shelter a few months ago after being rescued by a concerned citizen, she agreed to give an interview, please note that names and events have been altered to protect her, any similarities are coincidental, also read this story not for entertainment purposes, but for educational and awareness purposes.
My aunt came to see my mother, and told her she would take me to LAGOS, where she would give me work, so I could send money back home to support my mother and her brothers, I know this sounds like an everyday story, and yes you are right, it is an everyday story, because this is what happens every day, the rate of poverty is high, my father died some years ago, and up until now,
we have not been able to get his pension, too many technicalities, so we were left to fend for ourselves, in any way we could, sometimes my mother would fry bean cakes (AKARA), and I would sell some in the market, and around the neighborhood, but unfortunately the price of beans went up, and we couldn’t afford it anymore, so we had to stop, there was no money to even start any petty trade, I and my brothers had to stop school, and most days we would beg for alms just to eat, so you can imagine it was a welcomed relief when my aunt came to offer her assistance.
My mother did not hesitate, and the next day I was off to LAGOS with my aunt, well she wasn’t really my aunt, because we are not related in anyway, it’s just what I call her. We got to LAGOS and she put me in her big supermarket as a sales girl, and I met other girls here too, I was happy and I thought all our problems would be solved, I had this idea that I would work hard, save my salary, and eventually open a shop for myself, and bring my family over to LAGOS, sounded easy in theory, but my dreams where turned into a nightmare.
My aunt came to me one day and asked me to go deliver some things to a customer, unknown to me she had sold me out to a customer for sexual favors, when I got there I met a very old man, he forced himself on me, and raped me, after which he gave me N1, 500 and told me to greet my madam. From that point on, I and the other girls were used as sex slaves, sometimes I slept with as many as 5-7 men daily, it was horrible, many times I tried to run away, but we had been so isolated, we would end up being caught, because we didn’t even know our way around, and she seemed to be very popular , she would beat us like animals after every attempt, and whenever a customer complained we didn’t perform to expectations, she would beat and starve us.
There were different rates for different services,
For normal intercourse- N1, 500 (with condom)-EQV-$6.5
For normal intercourse –N2, 000 (without condom and HIV test proof)-EQV-$13
For anal sex- N3, 000 (with or without condom, but with HIV test proof)-EQV- $20
For oral sex-N1, 000
For just breast feeding –N500
This was what I was subjected to for almost 2years, most days I would just lay there and close my eyes, until they were done, I became a dead person just moving round, I remember I got pregnant and she beat me so badly she broke my nose, she accused me of trying to hook one of my customers so he would marry me, she took me to her doctor, and she removed the pregnancy, and that very day, I slept with 3 men, yes I did, even after the abortion, she was after the money, sometimes she would bring sacks of clothes for us to pick and wear, but I never saw any money, never had a way of contacting my family, it was total isolation.
One day a man came in and asked for a girl to bring his purchases to a hotel not too far from the supermarket, I was asked to do that delivery, and that day was my miracle day, the man was actually the one who brought me to this centre, they had heard of what was going on, and came to investigate, he took me from the hotel and brought me to the shelter.
A few days later, the shelter officials went back to the supermarket to confront my “aunt”, but she denied all the allegations and non of the girls confirmed the stories, I wasn’t surprised at the results, because I told them the conditions we were living in, I am lucky,
I am here and I can tell this story, the girls left there don’t have the courage to do so, because there is no one to protect them.
I can’t leave here yet, the shelter people said she might try to kidnap me from my home in the village if I go back, so they have offered to send someone to my family to explain everything to them, but
I feel very ashamed, how will my mother look at me, if she hears I was a prostitute in LAGOS, but I thank God for saving me from this life, I just got my HIV test result, and it is negative, so at least I survived that.
I am learning how to become a hair dresser, and I hope very soon, I’ll be good enough to get a real job, these things happen, it happened to me, I have seen the bad side of human beings and what they can do to others for money, i hope people will read this story, and believe and also help those that they can.
Well there you have it.
The reality is that there are many more girls out there,most of them if not all are thrust into these situations by their family members,the excuse usually is laid at the door step of poverty.
My question is Who is to be held accountable?
By Arome Ameh (The Priest)