Benin City: In Benin City, Nigeria’s capital of illegal migration, no one says the word “prostitution”. The word on the street for the young girls who leave for Italy or France is “hustling”.

About 37,500 Nigerians arrived in Italy by boat in 2016, more than from any other African country, and most of them were from the southern city, the capital of Edo state.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded an explosion in the number of Nigerian women trafficked into Europe.

In 2013, there were 433 but the following year, it rose to nearly 5,000. There was a “substantial increase” in “more easily-manipulated” under-age victims, the IOM says. Most are destined for sexual slavery.

“Why Edo? Why Benin City? I am trying to understand and it gives me a headache,” says Sister Bibiana, who helps young women when they return from Europe, voluntarily or otherwise.

“But they’re itching to go back.”

 

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