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I slept with five men daily for four years in Tripoli

Nov 29, 2017 5:40 AM

Maryanne Uwadiae, 25, is a troubled woman. Six months ago, she got deported from Libya, where she spent four years moving from one prison to another. Within the period, she was held captive by Nigerian and Libyan traffickers, who forced her into prostitution and use of hard drugs.At 17, she was impregnated by Mike Onogedion, her boyfriend, a school dropout, just about a year to the completion of her high school education in Esan, Edo State.Broken and disoriented, Maryanne abandoned her academic pursuit. She dropped out of school to face the pressure of a difficult pregnancy. By the time she had her baby at 18, Onogedion had travelled to Libya en route Italy unannounced, thus leaving her to the childs upkeep.With no financial support from her boyfriends family, Maryanne struggled to cater for herself and the child with the little pocket money she got from her mother. Since it could not sustain her and the baby, she became desperate e for any kind of lifeline.Her desperation led her to consider travelling out of the country in search of greener pasture. Kelly, an acquaintance who regularly visited her neighbourhood, promised to help her achieve her oversea dreams if only she paid him N400,000 to facilitate the trip.This was in 2013. I was 19 years old then. I was staying in my parents house in Ishan when Kelly came to our house and asked me if I was interested in travelling to Italy to work. I showed interest in the discussion because I was already planning to do that, at least to change my living condition. I had a baby I could not feed properly. I considered the offer without hesitation, she explained.Weeks after she accepted Kellys offer, Maryanne couldnt get money to pay for the trip. Hence she pleaded with Kelly to help her get the visa to Italy on credit. She promised to refund the money after she secures employment in Italy.Kelly reluctantly accepted the arrangement. He requested that Maryanne should get a travel passport. He pledged he would get Maryanne to Italy and also promised to get her a decent job.Weeks after she gave her passport to Kelly, he called Maryanne and informed her about her travel itinerary.It was too late for her to prepare for the trip thus she told her mother to look after her baby and left Nigeria in company of boys she had never met.The tortuous journey to LibyaMaryanne left her base in Esan, Edo State through Kano State, where she joined another group of Libya-bound migrants with Kelly. At this juncture, she experienced her first trepidation in respect of the trip: when she got her passport back from Kelly, Maryanne was surprised to see that there was no visa on it. But it was not a time to ask questions hence she sat back to brave the ride as a rickety bus conveyed them to Niger Republic.She said: I left my then two-year-old baby with my mother. I bade her farewell, hoping to speak to her when I get to Italy. When we got to Niger Republic, we spent two nights there before we proceeded to the next stop. We travelled a far distance through the desert to Zinder and to Agadez, from where we got to Tripoli.We spent about seven days in Agadez. During this period, I did not eat anything. I felt sick and looked skinny by the time we arrived in Libya. In the course of the journey, Kelly was disturbing me for sex. He assaulted me several times, telling me he wanted to sleep with me in the desert. I rebuffed him on each occasion that he requested for sex. He told me that I was stubborn and told me I would regret my action by the time we get to Libya.Unknown to Maryanne, Kelly had already sold her to traffickers before she left Nigeria. When she arrived in Tripoli, she was forced into prostitution to pay back the money paid to Kelly. By then, Kelly had left Libya and crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.It did not occur to me that Kelly had already sold me to human traffickers right from Nigeria. When we got to Libya, Kelly handed me over to some people and disappeared. I later discovered those people were traffickers. They took me to a large building with several rooms. It looked like a hostel. There, I saw many girls of different ages; some of them were underage, about 14 to 15 years old, she said.According to Maryanne, men entered at interval and picked girls of their choice. They would take them into the rooms. I was looking at them in surprise and I still did not know what I was there to do. Then, a lady approached me and said, Hey, why are you standing like a novice' Cant you hustle' I asked what kind of hustle it was and she replied that those young girls being taken inside the rooms were my seniors and they were working hard to pay the boss.She told me the boss had paid Kelly to bring me to Libya and that I needed to hustle to pay back the money. She also told me that I needed to hustle to get LYD 9,400 (N2.4 million) before I could be allowed to go. Then I knew I had been sold into prostitution. Some of the girls I met in the building had been held in that place for years without being allowed to go, even when some of them had already completed their bonds.The only way we could be freed at that moment was if any man comes and says he likes any of us. The man would ask our boss how much we needed to pay before we could be freed. Then, they would pay and we would go with them. In reality, that was not freedom. The men who paid bond for girls also turned them to sex objects in their private houses, she said.The road to prisonMaryanne explained that her desperation to travel abroad in search of greener pasture was not to engage in prostitution but to work as a house help or factory hand, since she has no academic qualification.But she had been sold to prostitution and she needed money to pay for her freedom from the traffickers den. For weeks, Maryanne said she refused to hustle.She called her mother back home and explained her ordeal in Libya. But there was nothing her mother could do to salvage the situation. To negotiate her freedom, Maryannes mother was conditioned to pay N2.4 million into a Nigerian bank account. Since she could not get the money, she told her daughter to agree with the terms of freedom given to her by her boss.When I told them I could not participate in prostitution, they asked me to pay LYD 9,400 which was the money paid to Kelly for selling me to them. I told the traffickers to look for Kelly and get back their money. They told me he had already used the money to pay for his trip to cross to Italy.They said the only option I had to live in Libya was to hustle, so that I could pay back the money. When I declined, they locked me up in a room and beat me seriously. They threatened to kill me and dump my body in a latrine. I called my mother back home and explained what I was facing.Since there was no means my mother and I could pay back the money, I succumbed to their wish. I started hustling and I was getting money daily to pay back the boss. I was sleeping with, at least, four men a day. Sometimes, if there were many clients, I could sleep with more than five men. We were given drugs and other substances to boost our sexual activities. This is what I was doing to for almost a year after I arrived in Tripoli.When I almost completed the bond payment, my mother went to borrow N200,000 and sent to the boss, so that she could allow me to go. When this was done, they told me I still had a balance of LYD500 (N128,000) left.When Kelly got to know about Maryannes ordeal, he called the traffickers from his base in Italy and requested to speak to her.Kelly apologised for selling me into prostitution. He told me he needed the money at that time to cross to Italy through the Mediterranean Sea. He told me he would send LYD1,000 (N257,000) from Italy to the boss for my freedom. The woman deducted the balance I owed and gave me LYD500, telling me I was free to go. This was after about 11 months after I had been paying for the bond, she said.Freedom to nowhereReleased from the traffickers den, Maryanne dreamed of starting a new life. She contemplated moving to other parts of Libya to look for job as a house help in order to earn decent living. But the lure of crossing the Mediterranean to Italy set in once again.She said: I went straight to the sea side, with the intention to cross to Italy by the ocean. But unknown to her, she had been set up for arrest by the traffickers. As she attempted to join a group of migrants to the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, she was picked up by Libyan immigration officers.She said: I was locked up in a prison, where I spent four months. I lost communication with my mother and child back home. They thought I had died in Libya since I could not be reached anymore.Relief came for her when an Arab lady came to the prison to arrange for the bail of six Nigerian girls in the immigrations detention facility.I was one of the six girls she bailed out of detention. When she got us out of prison, the Arab woman promised to help us get factory work. She requested that we follow her to her private residence in Tripoli. When we got to her house, she locked us up in a car garage and said each of us must pay her LYD4,000 (N1,028,300). We were shocked, Maryanne said.She added: She called some Arab boys to beat us with all manners of materials. I got across to Kelly in Italy and told him my experience. Kelly spoke to the Arab woman and said he would pay the money on my behalf.About a month late, Kelly did not send the money as promised. But, a Ghanaian national paid the Arab woman LYD 6,000 (N1.5 million) to free two girls, excluding Maryanne. The Arab woman, Maryanne said, held on to them and locked them up in a garage without bed.Freedom at lastMaryanne and the three remaining captives eventually escaped from the garage at midnight, when they discovered the iron-gate was loosely shut.Maryanne said: One of us got up at midnight and saw that the gate was not properly shut. She woke us up and said we needed to escape. As we ran out from the compound, the Arab woman woke up. She alerted some local militia members. They ran after us with vehicles and guns. We ran into an empty shop where we hid till the next day. We escaped from the area at dawn.Maryanne said she had no choice order than to engage in prostitution to get money.We were stranded and homeless. We needed to buy phones and clothes. I did not have any money with me. One of the girls with whom I escaped took us to Connection House (a parlance for brothel) owned by her Ghanaian boyfriend. We engaged in prostitution at the Connection House to raise money for our trip to Italy through the Mediterranean Sea, she said.While working as commercial sex workers at the Connection House, Maryanne and her newfound friends made money without having to pay her boss. The only tax they paid was given to the owner of the brothel, where they resided.However, when they thought their tribulations had ended, Maryanne and her fellow adventurers came under regular police and armed robbery attacks in the brothel. They were dispossessed and robbed of the money and other valuables during a night raid by the police.She said: The police raid was fatal. After they collected our phones and money, they went to male section of the brothel and killed some of the boys, claiming that they were dealing in cocaine and hard drugs. They took all the money found in the rooms. They arrested the rest of us and took us to Abu Salim Prison. They asked us to bring LYD2,000 (N514,000) each to regain our freedom. I was there for months before a Nigerian man came and bailed four of us.Back in captivityTwo months later, Maryanne and five other girls were bailed out of the Abu Salim Prison in Tripoli by a Nigerian man simply identified as Alhaji, at the rate of LYD2,000 each, the latter promised to help them secure decent jobs and rebuild their lives. He took them to Abu Salim Rubbish, a slum close to the prison.When we got to his house, Alhaji said we would need to pay him double of the money he paid for our bail. He told us not to bother about the work he promised. He said he purposely bailed us out of the prison to help us serve clients who usually look for Nigerian girls to sleep with.He gave us rooms where men would sleep with us for a fee. We had no option but to agree to Alhajis terms. The clients would pay Alhaji directly and come in to have sex with us. We did not make enough money because Alhaji told the clients not to show any appreciation after having sex with us. But some of them would still give us money.When I finished the repayment, I left Alhajis house and moved to another area called Garage. The slum is populated mostly by black Africans. I went there to start hustling, so that I could get money to pay my way to Italy.Perilous cruise to ItalyWhen she found out it would cost her LYD700 to travel to Italy by boat, Maryanne doubled her hustle. Having gone through hell in Tripoli, she was determined to risk anything in order to reach her dreamland and start a new life.She joined a herd of Mediterranean Sea-bound migrants to Italy. She said migrants were laid on the floor of the buses taking them through the Libyan border of Zuhara, from where they would join boats on a four-hour journey to the Italian shoreline through the high sea.It was not a free ride to the sea. The buses were stopped for inspections by the border police thus the migrants were expected to contribute money to bribe the policemen at the border for easy access to the sea.Each migrant paid LYD300 (N77,000) to the Libyan drivers who drove them to the Mediterranean Sea. The drivers gave kickbacks to the border police to allow them free passage.When we got to the shoreline, all of us who were migrating to Italy came down and we were handed over to Gambian boat owners, who ferried us across the Mediterranean Sea to the Italian shoreline. We paid LYD700 each for the boat ride.If the boat owners were Libyans, the fare could be less because the Libyan border police were not allowed to collect from their citizens.When we got close to the shoreline, we were asked to jump into the ocean with poorly inflated lifejackets and tubes. They said we should hide our mobile phones, because the Italian rescue team would turn back the boats to Libya if they discovered our phones. We were told to send distress signal to the Italian rescue team when we got to the shoreline.Luck however, ran out on Maryanne when the boat she was in, was arrested by the Italian water patrol police. The boat was led back to Libya and the migrants fled to avoid being arrested by the Libyan police.Maryanne disclosed that desperate nursing mothers and pregnant women embarked on the dangerous journey regularly because Italian authorities considered pregnancy and infants as part of the conditions to fast-track issuance of legal permits to the refugees in Italy.Maryanne said it was common occurrence for migrant-laden boats to be attacked midstream by pirates. They took the engines and watched the vessels capsize with migrants onboard.After her failed trip to Italy, Maryanne returned to Garage to continue hustling. But at that time, Libyans had started killing black Africans.Many people were killed. It was God who saved me from being killed during the riot. It was there that I was arrested and taken to the deportation camp. I was deported back to Nigeria in May.An odyssey of regretsThe last time she set her eye on her daughter was in 2013 when she left Nigeria through Niger Republic. Her daughter is now six, but she barely recognised Maryanne. Yet she couldnt go home after she was deported from Libya due to the shame of returning empty-handed.She said: I had thought I would come back and take my baby when I eventually get to Italy and things become rosy for me. I regret ever embarking on the journey. Kelly told my mother he was taking me to Libya from where we would cross to Italy. This is why my mother allowed me to go with him.More pain, no gainMaryanne, who is now working as a sales girl in a local restaurant in Lagos, still has the ambition to travel out of the country for greener pasture. But she wouldnt reenact her Libyan experience.I dont want to go through what I experienced in Libya again in my life. I will tell you the truth about my plan. I still have ambition to travel out of this country. I dont think I can make it in Nigeria because of the hardship I have been facing since I was a teenager. I dont think I can stay in Nigeria. I will travel to Europe if I see the opportunity.The post I slept with five men daily for four years in Tripoli appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.]]> baby flower girl outfits for wedding

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