The 16-year-old Nigerian girl Miriam (a fake name used for safety purposes) went out to fetch water in the northern state Borno, she was approached by a middle-aged woman known as “Aunty Kiki” and was asked if she was interested in moving to the city of Enugu to work as a housemaid for a monthly salary. The 16-year-old Miriam immediately accepted the offer, and she began to prepare for her trip to the east.
As reported by Al Jazeera, Mirian told her 17-year-old cousin Roda and even advised her to approach Aunty Kiki too.
Roda asked Aunty Kiki if there was a job for her too, and when she quickly agreed, Roda packed her bags and she and her cousin were both very excited to travel to the city of Enugu.
“We had suffered so much for four years and were happy to go somewhere new to start a new life.” – she told reporter Philip Obaji Jr. of Al Jazeera news.
Both Mirian and Roda (a fake name as well) had fled the Nigerian town Bama a few years ago after it was stormed by the militant group Boko Haram, burning down houses and kidnapping women and children. The two girls have no idea what happened to their family back in Bama.
They lived in a camp that houses more than 5,000 people who had fled Boko Haram, and life in the camp was miserable. The two had to beg on the streets to be able to get enough to eat, so this was the reason the girls jumped at the chance to get paid jobs in Enugu. Everything happened so fast that they had no time to tell anyone they were going.
After traveling for two days, the girls and Aunty Kiki reached the city of Enugu, and they were handed to a woman called “Mma”. She told the two teenage girls to do whatever the woman asked of them. Mirian told the reporter that the building had two flats of three bedrooms each, and they were all filled with young girls, some of whom were pregnant. Aunty Kiki told them that that’s where they’d be working, and at first, they were told to clean the building and do household chores, just as Aunty Kiki had promised them. However, their new employees had other ideas.
According to Miriam, she and Roda were told to stay in separate rooms the first night, and a man walked into her room in the middle of the night, ordered her to take off her clothes, held her hands tightly, and raper her. The same thing happened to Roda as well, but her rapist was even more brutal.
The two girls were moved to shared rooms with the others the following day, and they were only being sent to ‘single rooms’ when they had to “work”. Miriam and Roda say that they were raped almost daily, by several different men, and they believe that Aunty Kiki and Mma work together in the same trafficking cartel.
Even though both of the girls fell pregnant within a month, they were still raped.
“If any of the men wants you, you can’t say no. It doesn’t matter whether you are six weeks or six months pregnant.” – said Roda.
Trying to escape from the building was pointless, according to the girls, because it was guarded by men with guns. The number of girls living in the building would change as the girls gave birth and were sent away, and new girls were brought in to produce more children for the cartel. A few months later, Miriam gave birth to a baby boy in the building, but her son was immediately taken from her.
Just three days later, the 16-year-old was blindfolded and taken to a bus station, and the traffickers sent her back to the north. They gave her about $55 to assist in her transportation, and she went back to Maiduguri.
Baby factories are a common thing in the southern part of Nigeria, and Miriam doesn’t know for how much her baby was sold for.
Reportedly, women and girls are held captive in order to deliver babies, who are then sold illegally to adoptive parents, or are trafficked into prostitution, child labor, or are even ritually killed.
According to Comfort Agboko, the head of the southeastern arm of Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency, male children are sold for about $2,000 to $2,700, while female babies are sold for between $1,350 and $1,500.
Roda, Miriam’s cousin, was also discarded after she gave birth to a boy, and the two cousins were finally reunited in Madinatu, where they’re currently living together in a small mud house, close to the camp they were trafficked from.