Traffickers used the Russian World Cup to attract us in, leading Nigerian women

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Blessing Obuson thought that Russia's World Cup soccer would be a chance to find a job and he went into Moscow from Nigeria in June last on an ID ID. Instead, she had to work as prostitution.

Fan IDs allowed visa-free entries for supporters of the World Cup, but did not give the right to work. Despite this, Obuson, 19, said she was expected to work as a shop assistant to restore her 2 year old daughter and younger brothers in Edo's state of Nigeria.

Instead, she said that she was locked in an apartment on the outskirts of Moscow and that she was engaged in sex work with 11 other Nigerian women who were supervised by Madam, also from Nigeria.

“I cried hard. But what choice did I have? ”Obuson told Reuters after being free from anti-slavery agents.

She said her passport had passed her confiscation and she said she would not get it just to get back when she worked out of fictional debt of $ 50,000.

Obuson told his story to an English speaking client who got anti-slave actors.

Two Nigerians were subsequently arrested and charged with trafficking people after they dealt with Obuson's sales of 2 million rubles (about $ 30,000) to a police officer who sent as clients, according to their lawyer, statements from prosecutors, and evidence. he was presented at court hearings in the case of Reuters journalists. The case is still under investigation.


Obuson case is not isolated. Reuters met with eight Nigerian women aged between 16 and 22 years who were introduced to Russia on fan IDs and placed under sexual work. Everyone said they were worried.

Blessed Obuson from Nigeria, 19, is rescued from human traffickers, a portrait in shelter on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia 21 February, 2019. Picture taken February 21, 2019. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov

“They don't give you food for the days, they put on you, they broke you, they turn your face … It's like a cage,” said a 21-year-old woman who refused to be named .

In September, a man who refused to pay for sex, a Nigerian woman killed. Nigeria's embassy later recognized her as Alifat Momoh, who is 22 years old and came to Nigeria Russia with fan recognition.

Russian police say 1,963 Nigerians did not enter the country with fan IDs left by January 1, the date the IDs went expired.

Kenny Kehindo, who works with several NGOs in Moscow to help victims of sexual trafficking, estimates that more than 2,000 Nigerian women have been admitted to fan IDs.

The Russian police and the Nigerian embassy in Moscow did not respond to requests for opinion. A spokesperson from the Nigerian foreign ministry as well as text messages and phone calls did not respond to traffic.

“Many people are still under slavery,” said Kehindo, who said that it helped about 40 women to return to Nigeria.

“Fan ID is very good, but an instrument in the hands of human traffickers. a fan recognition system is also being considered.

Alternativa's anti-slavery group said its helpline had given calls from Nigerian women held in St Petersburg and other World Cup host cities.

While there was a prosecution in the case of Obuson, the police were unable to act against suspected traffickers in other cases because of a lack of evidence.

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“There are a lot of girls out there,” said Obuson.

(In the 15th paragraph the word is dropped. There are no other changes in the text.)

Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Edited by Andrew Osborn and Gareth Jones

Our Standards:The principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.


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