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Thousands of Nigerian girls in sexual slavery in Mali

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Summary of story from All Africa, July 19, 2011

Thousands of trafficked Nigerian girls are being held against their will as sex slaves in Mali.

Although the Federal Government has been aware of their predicament for a year,  the relevant government agencies have still not managed to bring them home.

Following reports from local preachers and aid workers, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) sent a fact-finding mission late last year and discovered that the situation was far worse than the reports.

It discovered over 20,000 Nigerian girls had been trafficked and forced to work as prostitutes.

NAPTIP executive-secretary, Simon Egede,  said the fact-funding mission in Mali found Nigerian girls in many brothels in Bamako (capital of Mali), Mopti and Kayes, charging around 150 Nigerian dollars (about US$1) for sex.

They were being held under inhuman conditions in tiny shacks and forced to entertain about 20 men per night.

In 2010, NAPTIP launched ‘Operation Timbuktu’ to secure their release, but the rescue mission failed.

According to Egede: “the first thing that is preventing their return is support from the Malian authorities.”

“It is an emergency” agreed NAPTIP spokesman, Arinze Orakwue. “It is obvious that NAPTIP lacks the intelligence, determination and logistics required to undertake the rescue operation since it involves a foreign country”.

He added: “The agency is making a multi-pronged approach to bring back the girls. We shared the report with other sister law enforcement agencies, organisations in the UN (United Nations) system”.

Sadly, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that NAPTIP has not deployed all its resources in rescuing these trafficked girls and that they will not be coming home any time soon.

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