MOSCOW (Reuters) – Blessing Obuson thought Russia’s soccer World Cup would be an opportunity to find a job and flew into Moscow from Nigeria last June on a fan ID. Instead, she found herself forced to work as a prostitute.
Fan IDs allowed visa-free entry to World Cup supporters with match tickets, but did not confer the right to work. Despite that, Obuson, 19, said she had hoped to work as a shop assistant to provide for her 2-year-old daughter and younger siblings back in Nigeria’s Edo state.
Outskirts - Moscow - Sex - Work - Women
Instead, she said she was locked in a flat on the outskirts of Moscow and forced into sex work along with 11 other Nigerian women who were supervised by a madam, also from Nigeria.
“I cried really hard. But what choice did I have?” Obuson told Reuters after being freed by anti-slavery activists.
Madam - Passport - Debt
She said her madam had confiscated her passport and told her she’d only get it back once she’d worked off a fictional debt of $50,000.
Obuson told her story to a rare English-speaking client who got anti-slavery activists involved.
Nigerians - Trafficking - Deal - Obuson - Rubles
Two Nigerians were later arrested and charged with human trafficking after striking a deal to sell Obuson for 2 million rubles (around $30,000) to a police officer posing as a client, according to her lawyer, statements from prosecutors, and evidence presented at court hearings in the case attended by Reuters journalists. The case is still under investigation.
Obuson’s case is not isolated. Reuters met eight Nigerian women aged between 16 and 22 brought into Russia on fan IDs and forced into sex work. All said they had endured violence.
“They don’t give you food...
Wake Up To Breaking News!