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Joy

An orphan who was tricked into leaving her village in northern Nigeria in 1998, Joy Ubi-Ubi fashions the turning-point from freedom to slavery as the moment when she drank blood during a voodoo ritual. Afterwards, once Joy was in Europe, her captors said this ritual meant the “juju” would kill her if she tried to escape. As Joy explains, she was thereby “forced to do the work” of a prostitute. She was enslaved for three years in the deprived Bijlmer district of Amsterdam—home to many West African immigrants. But the narrative also includes a parallel turning-point from slavery to freedom: the moment when Joy was asked to drink something again: a liquid that would make her bleed, and miscarry. This time, she refused to take the drink. Not wanting to abort her pregnancy, she made the decision to escape, then was helped by a West African Pentecostal minister who operates mission houses in Amsterdam. This use of native West African voodoo is a common feature of the slave experience for Nigerian women held in Western Europe (of whom there are around 10,000). The women and girls undergo an initiation ritual before leaving their country: for Joy this included the marking of her face and hands, and laying hands on a “juju” (statue), as well as drinking blood. They are often made to swear to the gods that they will work hard for their employers, and will never mention their real names, run away, or contact the police. Captors threaten the women with punishment by the gods for any disobedience, and warn that any attempt to escape will awaken a curse on their families. Once in Europe they are drugged, then resold. Held in brothels, they have sex with customers but are not paid: Joy notes that all money changed hands before the clients reached her room. Any pregnancies are aborted.

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Fishing baskets, Lagos Lagoon

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Grace

Grace was educated until the 10th grade in Nigeria, after which she was sent to work to help support her family, who lived in poverty. She worked for three years at various jobs, during which time she was raped and gave birth to a son. Her father told her that as a woman, she was “predestined by God to save her family from poverty by going to Europe to earn money.” He introduced her to a woman whose sister lived in Germany. Grace was told that she would have to repay the travel costs by working for the woman’s sister, after which she could work as a babysitter or in a restaurant to send money back home. Grace didn’t have an understanding of the amount she would have to repay, because the amount was in German currency, but she decided to take the chance because she didn’t have better prospects for her life in her country and her family was pressuring her. As is typical in her community, she underwent a Juju (Voodoo) ritual where she swore never to betray the contact in Germany and that she would pay all the debts. Grace talks about how she believes the problem of sexual exploitation should be addressed, based on her experiences.

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Idora

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia. Idora was enslaved in sex work after being promised lucrative cleaning work in the UK to help her save for a university education. Her story highlights that those who escape slavery may yet feel forced to return because of threats made against their lives, or those of their family members.

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Olabisi

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia. Olabisi’s initial claim to asylum was refused and, although she accessed legal representation to appeal this decision, she chose to leave Unseen’s project and her whereabouts are currently unknown.

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Grace A

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia. Grace was just 10 years old when her parents died and she was forced to live on the streets of Lagos. A few years later she met a woman who said she was looking for someone to help her around the house. Grace stayed there for 2 years. At the age of 15 she was taken to England where she was forced to work as a prostitute. Grace was able to escape after 3 months; however, she was taken to a detention centre by authorities after her asylum claim was rejected, despite being told by the police she had been trafficked.

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Princess

Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most widespread form of modern slavery with an 84% of victims trafficked for this purpose. The majority of those trafficked for this purpose are women and young girls who often originate from Eastern Europe within the EU as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of people being trafficked from Nigeria to various parts of Europe including Italy, France, Spain and the UK through an array of complex trafficking networks.    Princess, 43, was trafficked from Nigeria into prostitution in Italy 

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Aduke

Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most widespread for of modern slavery with an 84% of victims trafficked for this purpose. The majority of those trafficked for this purpose are women and young girls who often originate from Eastern Europe within the EU as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of people being trafficked from Nigeria to various parts of Europe including Italy, France, Spain and the UK through an array of complex trafficking networks.  Aduke, a Nigerian teenager, was sold as an adult and forced in to prostitution on the streets in both the south of France and the UK. 

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Agnes

The United Kingdom remains a significant destination for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. At least one child a day is trafficked into Britain according the to the Human Trafficking Foundation, with children forced to work in the sex industry, domestic service, cannabis cultivation or as criminal on the streets.  Child victims of human trafficking primarily originate from Romania, Vietnam, Nigeria, and from within the UK itself. Agnes was running away from an abusive home life when she met a woman who took her in. Agnes was offered the chance to travel to the UK to train to become a doctor under the promise she would repay the cost of travel. However, upon arriving, she was forced to provide sexual services to men as part of her ‘repayment’. Agnes was able to escape at the age of 21 but was forced to continue sex work in order to be able to afford to live. It was not until Agnes arrived at City Hearts that she was able to obtain skills and childcare and begin building for a better future.

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Charlotte B

In 2016, the estimates of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaved population. As evident from surveys conducted in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia by Walk Free Foundation, slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa takes the form of forced labour and forced marriage. In Ghana, survey results suggest that there are an estimated 103,300 people enslaved in that country, of which 85 percent are in forced labour, and 15 percent are in forced marriage. For forced labour, the main industries of concern are farming and fishing, retail sales and then manual labour and factory work. In Nigeria, survey results suggest that forced labour is predominantly within the domestic sector, although it was impossible to survey in three regions due to high conflict. In South Africa, the industries most reported in the survey include the commercial sex industry, manual labour industries such as construction, manufacturing and factory work, and drug trafficking. Charlotte travelled from Croydon to Nigeria in 2014 to work as a tutor. However, once she arrived in Lagos her passport was confiscated, and she was prevented from leaving the house. Charlotte was able to return home after her parents rang her employers day and night, pressuring them to let her come home. When she arrived home, Charlotte became a member of the Croydon Community Against Trafficking in order to educate people on the nature of human trafficking.

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Shelia

Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. According to the most recent Eurostat findings, European Union (EU) citizens account for 65 percent of identified trafficked victims within Europe. These individuals mostly originate from Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. In Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Parliament has identified corruption and the judicial system as reform challenges towards accession talks within the EU. In Greece, the turbulent economic situation has increased vulnerability for populations seeking employment and livelihood opportunities. In Greece, unemployment reached 24.4 percent in January 2016 with a youth unemployment rate of 51.9 percent.  Sheila was 15 years old and living in Nigeria with her parents when a woman offered to take her abroad to work and get an education. However, upon arrival she was forced to carry out all the housework, as well as provide sexual services for older men.

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Hanou

Forced child labour remains a source of concern in Nigeria, according the International Labor Organization, the number of children working under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include street vending, begging, car washing and shoe shiners, while a large number work as domestic servants and farm hands. According to UNICEF, causes of child labour include widespread poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, high school drop out rates and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children. Hanou was trafficked at 9 years old when her parents sent her to Nigeria to work as a servant.

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Bella

Forced child labour remains a source of concern in Nigeria. According the International Labor Organization, the number of children working under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include street vending, begging, car washing and shoe shiners, while a large number work as domestic servants and farm hands. According to UNICEF, causes of child labour include widespread poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, high school drop out rates and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children. Bella was trafficked at 9 years old to Nigeria for domestic work. She was eventually helped by Plan International and is now learning to become a hairdresser.

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Dede

Forced child labour remains a source of concern in Nigeria, according the International Labor Organization, the number of children working under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include street vending, begging, car washing and shoe shining, while a large number of children work as domestic servants and farm hands. According to UNICEF, causes of child labour include widespread poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, high school drop out rates and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children. Dede was trafficked to Abuja, the Nigerian capital when she was 13 years old. Forced to sell petrol under the threat of physical danger. Dede was able to leave her situation, however remains in the capital working as a porter girl.

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Rachida

Forced child labour remains a source of concern in Nigeria, according the International Labor Organization, the number of children working under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include street vending, begging, car washing and shoe shining, while a large number of children work as domestic servants and farm hands. According to UNICEF, causes of child labour include widespread poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, high school drop out rates and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children. Rachida was trafficked into domestic work at 10 years old in Nigeria by her mother. One day when she saw her brother, she decided to run away. Now, with the help of Plan International, Rachida is training to be a seamstress.

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Esther B

Forced child labour remains a source of concern in Nigeria, according the International Labor Organization, the number of children working under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include street vending, begging, car washing and shoe shining, while a large number of children work as domestic servants and farm hands. According to UNICEF, causes of child labour include widespread poverty, rapid urbanisation, breakdown in extended family affiliations, high school drop out rates and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children. Esther was trafficked to Nigeria at 13 years old after her sister told her they were going on holiday. When she didn’t return, Plan Togo alerted the police to her disappearance and she was eventually rescued and returned home. Esther is now pursuing her dream of becoming a midwife.

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Aicha

It is estimated that there are around 875, 000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Nigeria. It remains a source, transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Within Nigeria, women and girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked for forced labour in street vending, agriculture, mining, stone quarries, and as domestic servants. Religious teachers also traffic boys, called almajiri, for forced begging. Aicha was told she would be staying with a woman and helping her with the housework. However instead, Aicha found herself locked in a stranger’s house and forced to work longs hours taking care of children and doing all the cooking and cleaning. Aicha stayed there for 3 years before she returned to her village. Through Plan International she has learned dress-making, and hopes to have her own workshop.

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Bukola Oriola (Narrative 2)

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Bukola Oriola, a Nigerian international news journalist was on a visit to New York to cover the UN 50th Anniversary, when she was invited by the man who it had arranged would be her husband to visit him in Minnesota. Upon arrival, he convinced her to stay, organising a spousal visa. However, Bukola soon found herself confined to the home with her movements monitored at all times. She was finally able to escape her situation after the birth of her child with the help of a public health nurse.

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Badagry Heritage Museum

The Badagry Heritage Museum is housed in the former district officer’s office that was constructed in 1863. The museum attempts to highlight the injustice and horror of the transatlantic slave trade, whilst also exhibiting the rich histories and cultures of Africa. There is a specific focus on the heritage of pre and post-transatlantic slave trade in Badagry. The museum consists of eight galleries each dealing with particular themes relating to local heritage and the transatlantic slave trade. Guided tours are available. The museum is managed by the Nigerian Cultural Commission.Each of eight galleries are named after a part of the transatlantic slave trade. The first, the 'Introductory Gallery', focuses on the founding and early history of Badagry. The next five galleries all deal specifically with distinct phases of the slave trade, from capture, transportation, material culture, resistance, and industry. In these galleries are objects that illustrate the brutal nature of enslavement, including shackles and manacles, as well as replicas of slave ships. The seventh gallery examines the forced integration of the enslaved into the countries they were transported to, featuring videos of reconstructed slave auctions. Finally, the last gallery explores abolition movements and the persistence of slavery even after its legal end. The museum has attempted to incoporate the voices of local people within the displays, as well as depicting the significance they place on certain cultural and historical items within the museum. In addition to the historical collections, there are also some examples of contemporary art throughout, showing modern reflections on the systems of enslavement.

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Old Residency Museum

The Old Residency Museum is housed in a colonial building, designed in Scotland and shipped to Nigeria during the 1880s. It previously housed the British colonial administration in Nigeria. The museum holds the largest collection of Nigerian documents and artefacts in the world. It focusses on the history of the Calabar and Cross River Regions, as well as slavery, and is managed by the National Commission for Museums.

The first exhibition encountered by visitors on their entry to the museum explores the four centuries of the trade in people that permeated Nigeria and the region. There is a significant display of European items that were used as trade goods in exchange for enslaved Africans. This includes Venetian glass beads, pewter pots, ceramic pots, shaving sets and guns. Other displays include items that illustrate the brutal nature of enslavement, including chains and manacles.

The museum's other exhibition examines the production processes of palm oil, as one of the most important exports to Calabar, after the abolition of the slave trade.