Saturday, April 08, 2006

A LIFE ENDED BY CHILD TRAFFICKERS

By:Nasir Al-Amin
The following is an excerpt from a BBC article that details the experience of one of the 1.2 million children trafficked each year. Fueled by poverty, trafficking is a lucrative global problem and is considered to be the fastest growing crime grossing an estimated $10 billion annually. Families and children are lured into trafficking by the promise of money and “a better life,” thus poor families and children need to be afforded viable alternatives, which could include practical skills training or income-generating schemes.

* Excerpt from Article below:
A Life Ended By Child Traffickers
Via: BBC
Mounriatou was just 16 when she was taken from her home in Togo to the oil-rich state of Gabon. Less than a year later she was dead from Aids after being gang-raped by a group of boatmen on her way to the "promised land". Just before she died she told aid workers her story. Now the charity, Plan International, is fighting to stop child trafficking and keep children like Mounriatou safe in their own countries.

Poverty pay
Mounriatou's family were in dire financial straits. She had been forced to drop out of school to help her mother make a living frying bean nuts. One day a woman came to their village to see her mother and told of a life of riches in the Gabon. Mounriatou decided to go with her to seek her fortune and left without telling her mother. She was taken with four other women to the capital of Togo, Lome, and from there to Lagos, in Nigeria.

While waiting to move on from Lagos, Mounriatou had to work as a maid to survive. She worked for just 55 US cents a day and when Adama, the woman who had recruited her and the other women, returned she took all their earnings. By now she had a collected a group of 14 girls and moved them to a village in the southwest of Nigeria. She promised they would soon be heading for the Gabon, but for months they were forced to work to pay for their trip with street traders - and were raped nightly by the canoe men. Mounriatou told charity workers: "Finally, we were told one night that we were leaving by sea early the following morning at dawn.

"There were between 300 and 350 clandestine passengers and children were in the majority.” We spent five days on high seas trying to hide from the coastguards. "This made some of us sick and the canoe men got rid of those who were very ill by throwing them into the sea." Mounriatou was ill, but she managed to survive.

Pregnant
But when she reached the shore it became obvious that she was heavily pregnant and of no use to her 'mistress'. "I was six months pregnant due to the numerous sexual abuses meted on us by the canoe men to pay for our trip to the Gabon." Adama dumped her with just $18. She was taken to the Togo Embassy and left with the Catholic sisters until she gave birth. When she gave birth, both she and her child had Aids. The Togo Embassy helped her to return home and within nine months both she and her child were dead.

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