Some Nigerian teenagers who were trafficked to Ghana to allegedly engage in prostitution have urged the country’s authorities to act fast in order to stem the inflow of more girls from neighbouring countries.
The girls, who are aged between 15 and 18, told Citi News they were lured into the country by a syndicate, under the pretext of being employed as shop attendants and house helps.
On arrival in Ghana, however, they were forced to operate as sex workers.
The teenagers, who were made to operate in Kasoa, Budumburam and East Legon, said their lives were threatened when they initially refused to heed the instructions of their “madams”.
One of the teenagers who spoke to Citi News narrated how she was brought into the country by a syndicate operating between Ghana and Nigeria.
“I came to Ghana through one of my aunties. I was working in Enugu State when she told me that there is a lot of work in Ghana and I stand to make more money there than [in Nigeria]. She promised that I would get a decent salary of GHS400, which is approximately 50,000 naira. On Wednesday, 3rd February, we embarked on our journey and met up with a driver who was directed to pick us. We went through the Seme border in Benin, through to Togo and to the Ghana border, which was all illegal. We had no passport,” she said.
According to her, when she got to the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, she called her “madam” who sent someone to take her to Osu, where she was based.
She indicated that at around 7 pm, she and the other girls were told to dress up.
“They took all our belongings and asked us to dress up and go out on the streets to [work as prostitutes], but I refused and asked her about the decent jobs I had been promised. I was beaten to a pulp and locked up in the room for refusing to go out,” she told Citi News.
Just like her, other Nigerian teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 have also fallen victim to these traffickers.
18-year-old Nkechi Miracle, from Imo state in the eastern part of Nigeria, also suffered a similar fate.
According to her, she was brought into Ghana under the guise of being employed in a decent job, but that was not to be as she was forced to engage in prostitution but also refused.
“A lady from Nigeria convinced me that she had a decent-paying job at a boutique in Ghana where I can make good money. I followed her all the way from Nigeria to Ghana. But upon arrival, I told her I could engage in the prostitution business after I found out that was the kind of work I was going to do. My madam woke me up at night and ask me to dress up. I was given a maroon wig to wear, a spaghetti top and some condoms,” Nkechi Miracle said.
These girls, who have been victims of human trafficking believe the authorities must act fast to stop the inflow of other innocent girls from Nigeria, many of whom are being lured to Ghana under the guise of earning a decent living.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 calls on countries to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025, end child labour in all its forms.
Over the years, research has shown that poverty is a major factor in the prevalence of slavery and human trafficking, particularly in third world countries.
Situations of desperation are created when families struggle to put food on the table, access healthcare or afford school fees to educate children.
In such cases, offers to travel abroad in the hopes of a better life become more tempting for parents and children. Many of these innocent individuals often fall victims to human traffickers who, most of the time, abuse these individuals for their selfish interests.
Despite efforts by the United Nations to eliminate the worst forms of slavery by 2025, much more work is required to address the issue.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Community in Central Region, Emmanuel Chukwuemaka Azubuikwe, who saved the girls after they managed to escape from their traffickers, believes there is a need for better collaboration between Ghana and Nigeria in dealing with this canker.
He is urging the government to deal with commercial drivers in Ghana who act as middlemen and convey these girls from Nigeria to Ghana.
“It is high time the two countries, Ghana and Nigeria, move in fast to stop this epidemic. If you look at the number of young girls on our streets, it is worrying and it is high time attention is given to this matter. The police must also deal with drivers in Ghana who convey these innocent girls to Ghana. That is the only way to curtail this menace. And the sad thing is that most of these girls are innocent, although some will be aware that the conditions under which they work are inhumane. They abuse them and threaten to deal with them when they make up their minds not to engage in the act,” he said.
With the help of the Nigerian High Commission, the girls have since been sent back to Nigeria.