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The Paris park where Nigerian women are forced into prostitution


A row of dirty vans is parked on a broad, tree-lined avenue in the outskirts of Paris. In the dark of night, fluttering candles light up the faces of the women in the front seats. None of them wear more than their underwear.

Others, wearing miniskirts, stand outside underneath street lamps, facing out onto the empty road.

Nadège was one of these women before she managed to escape.

She is softly spoken. "Even now I don't have hope for myself," she says. "My past already destroyed my future."

Related: Raped, beaten and forced into prostitution in Italy

The Bois de Vincennes, a sprawling park on the outskirts of eastern Paris, is home to horse riding schools and a zoo. It has also been part-commandeered by human traffickers.

The park's central road is yet another point on the map of a massive cross-continental trafficking network that has channeled tens of thousands of Nigerian women and children throughout Europe and as far as Malaysia.

Like them, Nadège says she was trafficked from Nigeria to France and forced into sexual slavery, at €20 ($23) per client, to pay off a colossal debt to a female Nigerian pimp known as a "madam."

Nadège, who could not give her real name for safety reasons, grew up in southern Nigeria.

She says that when she was just six, she was raped by a group of neighbors. Her parents sent her to live with an aunt.

But Nadège says her aunt was murdered after refusing a local gangster's marriage proposal for her niece. Nadège discovered her aunt's dead body.

At 15, Nadège says, she was raped once again and had her first abortion.

Alone, she was easy prey for traffickers. A madam she met in Lagos promised her a better life in Europe, working as a waitress.

"I was told it was like a paradise," Nadège tells CNN. "But getting here, it was like from frying pan to fire."

Related: Human trafficking survivor: I was raped 43,200 times

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) says that recruitment for trafficking to Europe is strongly concentrated in Edo State, in southern Nigeria, the region where Nadège was born.

Before leaving, the madam made Nadège swear an oath at a "juju" temple with a native doctor of Ayelala -- a traditional belief system from southern Nigeria.

Nadège swore to repay her madam for sending her to Europe, and to never speak of her oath, or her debt, to anyone. It's the same for so many Nigerian women trafficked for sex.

Yehudi Pelosi, a lawyer who specializes in asylum law and human trafficking, said that as part of the ceremony the women are often forced to eat a kola nut and a chicken heart, and drink a concoction of gin and blood. Some of their pubic hair is taken, and their head, breasts and shoulders are often ritually scarred.

Charities working closely with the women say they are petrified of the oath's power.

Nadège was convinced that breaking it meant going mad or dying.

Families suffer, too. Charities say madams pay "cultists" -- military-style gangs -- to threaten and sometimes kill girls' relatives back home.

"Your parents are not safe... I love my mum, I don't want anything to happen to her," said Nadège.

Culled from CNN

My view: The prostitution problem with under age girls and young women being used as sex slaves in Europe is due to neglect from the Nigerian government, Buhari's government refused to give Income Support to millions of jobless Nigerians while lawmakers earn millions a month, it's sad. That's the social and economic injustice poor people face in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a poor country yet millions are living in hunger.