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.
Madame used to beat me if I didn’t cook and bathe her children when they came back from school. She’d make me kneel down and whip me on my back.
One day, my sister asked me to go and live with her in the capital. She took me to a woman’s house and made me work as a servant. I washed the dishes, cleaned the floors, cooked and took care of her children. Madame insulted me a lot, but I’d just keep quiet. I would just take heart. I’d hold on to my sister’s promise that she’d come back and take me home one day.
When I finally came home, I was so happy to see my mother and said to myself, I won’t suffer again. But sometimes when I think of what happened in the capital I feel very sad.
Narrative provided courtesy of Plan International