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By Helena Maleno / Translation: Nerea Alonso Durán

  • Groups of Nigerian women denounce that about 300 of them have died since the beginning of the Libyan conflict. Displaced to this country by trafficking nets for sexual exploitation they suffered rape, abuse, torture and death in absolute helplessness.


Joey arrived to Benin City barely a week ago. She has lived in Bengasi and Tripoli. She says that her boss has been able to take her out of the country but that other workmates weren’t so lucky. Joey speaks Arabic, she learnt it while waiting to cross the Italian border. “When the problems began we were locked in the houses. We stayed like that for several days. Going out was very dangerous. Afterwards we had to go search for food and some of my colleagues disappeared when they were out looking for some bread. But then the Libyans started going inside the houses. We were raped, some of us were killed. They raped me three times” Joey declares with great fortitude.

The girls that were able to run away explain how the abuses came from both sides; from the rebels and from Gadafi’s followers. “We were afraid of every Libyan, of every man. There were military men, neighbors, other black Africans. The truth is that we ran away from everyone and we had no protection, my boyfriend died on the street, they beat him to death, they said he was a Gadafi follower. They only raped me tough I thought they were going to kill me”. Blessing remained hidden for several days before she was able to run away.

Several Nigerian citizen sources confirm the bloodcurdling toll of almost 300 sub-Saharan women killed during the fights for democracy that are taking place in Libyan territory.

“We had several houses in the cities. The women lived there, in groups, controlled. Eventually we’ve been able to see how many have disappeared; other women have been witness to many of the deaths. There are almost 300 missing”. William has accompanied a group of women to the border with Niger.

William is the “connection”, a controller for the net and he’s in charge of protecing these women. In this case the exploiters themselves have managed to get their ‘goods’ to safety.

Many of them have returned to Edo State, Nigeria’s most affected state by the curse of trafficking. But others have changed their journey and the nets have moved them to Morocco.

“I’ve been told by the neighbors not to go out on Sunday because people are going to get out just as they did in Libya. I’m scared to death. I went to Libya with fifteen ‘sisters’ and all of them died. They killed them on the streets, I had better luck. All of them were pregnant, like me. Pregnancy protects you from being raped -Arabs don’t usually rape you if you’re pregnant- but it doesn’t protect you from death”. Precious speaks while looking at her huge belly.

She reveals something very important; all those missing babies who were born in Libya or on the way to that country of which we don’t have numbers, references nor a way to prove they ever even existed.

“I lost two babies in Libya. Running away, I lost them. One was born in Niger. The other one was born in Tripoli. Their names are Mathew and Francis” says Joey Matthew.

According to the Nigerian government in reference to the numbers offered by Italian NGO’s, about 13 000 Nigerian women, of the 20.000 that are prostitutes in this European state would have used the Libyan route.
The situation of administrative irregularity and international defenselessness of the victims of trafficking are responsible for the fact that many of the violations of their rights remain unpunished. Migreurop made a call to the UNHCR for the protection of the refugees located in Libyan territory.

It’s also the moment to urge international organisms to protect the women victims of trafficking who are defenseless in this conflict and offer them an alternative protection to the one the trafficking nets are offering.