There are an estimated 1,386,000 people living in modern slavery in Nigeria (GSI 2018). Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, and a source country for men subjected to forced labour. Women and girls are victims of forced labour in domestic service both within the country as well as being trafficked to other West and Central African countries.
Esosa experienced trafficking and domestic servitude in Nigeria. She was then able to return to school and went on to study theatre arts at university. She is now a professional dancer and performer. Esosa supports anti-trafficking efforts in her community, including through NGO Y, by choreographing performances to raise awareness of the dangers of irregular migration.
When my mum complained that things were hard, a friend suggested that she send a child to go and work for someone she knew. My mother’s friend said that I was old enough, I was 12 at the time and the eldest. I was sent to an aunt in a village in the east. I thought she was my aunt, but it turns out she wasn’t. This ‘aunt’ was supposed to send me to school, but instead I was made to work. I only had the clothes I arrived in to last me the whole six months I was there. Sometimes when I was on her good side, I would eat once or twice a day. If I was on her bad side then I would starve for two days. Even though I was eating very little, I was overworked. I was made to work more than anyone doing manual labour on her farm. I had to sleep on concrete. She wanted to pimp me out, but because I refused, she would beat me and stab me. I decided to run away. Every day, the aunt would wake me up at 3.30am, so I had to start running by 3.00am. I started running. I got to a church and a Catholic priest let me in. I was allowed to call my mother; I memorised her number before I left. Two days later, my mum arrived to collect me. I was away from home for six months. Because afterwards I needed medical treatment, I lost a year out of school.
Narrative provided by ICAI