Photo credit: IOM/Monica Chiriac
“I left Nigeria with a man I knew from back home. I didn’t know him that well, but because I couldn’t find a job back home I decided to follow him. I needed to survive; I needed to fend for myself. No one else was going to do it for me.
When we left, I had no idea where we were going. When we reached Arlit in Niger, I couldn’t find any work other than prostitution.
Sometimes I made up to 20,000 CFA in a day, other times I didn’t make anything. I had to give the brothel owner all the money I made. If I didn’t make enough, she wouldn’t give me anything to eat. Even when I did, sometimes she thought I was lying to her and wouldn’t feed me. A few times she threatened me with prison until I told her we would go to prison together if that was the case.
At some point, I had to start keeping some money to myself because I would otherwise starve. I sent my family money a few times, but I had to make 90,000 CFA per month just to cover the rent. With every passing month I was in more and more debt.
I suffered tremendously. Sometimes people would have sex with me and pretend they weren’t satisfied so they would ask for their money back. Other women would give it back and advised me to do the same. I know it’s only 2,000 CFA, but that was hard-earned money for me. Once I refused to give it back, and the man beat me up and destroyed our room.
We were 6 women sharing the same room. Not only did we hear each other, but we saw each other in the act all the time. Never in my life did I picture myself doing anything like this. I thought I would be working in a shop or as a maid. Had I known that this what was waiting for me on this route, I would have stayed home.
I stayed in the brothel in Arlit for the next 8 months. Initially, I wanted to continue the journey, but once I heard about how terrible the route was I decided to go back. However, I didn’t have any money for transportation. A police officer told me about IOM so I went to the transit centre and they helped me get to Agadez.
We are very poor, but I am extremely happy to go back and see my child. My father is dead and so is my husband. My child needs me there. I like to think this experience has made me wiser. The more you live, the more you learn. However, I wouldn’t wish this kind of suffering upon anyone, not even my worst enemy.”