Since December 2018, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) gathered information that 20,000 Nigerian girls and women have been taken to Mali to be forced into prostitution rings, CNN reports. The girls and women, mainly aged between 16-30, are being approached by human traffickers that claim hopes of legal employment in countries like Malaysia.
According to the organization’s Arinze Osakwe, this is a tactic that’s becoming all too common in the country. “The new trend is that they told them they were taking them to Malaysia and they found themselves in Mali,” Osakwe said. “They told them they would be working in five-star restaurants where they would be paid $700 per month.”
Osakwe also revealed that the organization rescued 104 girls in Mali’s capital of Bamako in 2011, “and those were the ones that were even willing to come.” Additionally, those that returned home were “between the age of 13 and 25, and they had been trapped in the country for many years.” To support their efforts alongside Mali’s law enforcement, NAPTIP has partnered with the National Emergency Management Agency and the International Organization for Migration.
Julie Okah-Donli, NAPTIP’s director general, said these girls and women might have also been trafficked to countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast, Reuters reports. Okah-Donli also described the physical spaces these women and girls lived in.
“They were reliably informed by the locals that they had over 200 such places scattered around the southern part of Mali,” Okah-Donli said. “In each of the shacks where they held them they had 100 to 150 girls in the area.” She added that’s how the organization arrived at of the figure of 20,000.