The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has decried the plight of young Nigerian women working as domestic workers in Iraq.
The agency said most of the young Nigerian women working in Iraq are exploited in diverse ways, including sexual harassment and are now requesting for assistance to return home.
NAPTIP Director-General, Fatima Waziri-Azi raised the alarm while speaking on new destinations for human trafficking across the globe.
According to a statement by NAPTIP spokesperson, Adekoye Vincent, Waziri-Azi said that the agency is currently investigating several rogue labour recruiters who have been reported to be big players in the massive recruitment of Nigerians to Iraq for domestic servitude.
She said, “Because of the proactive activities and collaborative efforts of NAPTIP and its partners in raising awareness around issues of human trafficking to some of the known destination countries, traffickers have now shifted attention to Iraq.
“We are inundated with pleas for rescue and repatriation from female victims trafficked to Iraq, especially to the cities of Baghdad and Basra where they are distributed to various homes by their recruitment agents to a hard life of domestic servitude.
“Available information shows that many of these victims have been admitted to hospital many times due to long work hours under harsh conditions they are forced to undergo. Most of them have complained of deteriorating health resulting from the weight of work. They are constantly under threat of being harmed either by their direct employers or the Iraqi agents, each time they complained of unbearable workload.
“Many of them have no access to their phones because their phones are seized immediately they are paired with an employer. They are never allowed out of the premises where they are serving and even when communication is established with them for rescue, they cannot give details of their location because they do not know where they are. It is indeed a very scary situation.
“Aside the workload imposed on them by their taskmasters, they are constantly being sexually harassed by members of the household where they are serving, aggravating their situation.
“It is very important to be cautious about this desperate quest to travel out of Nigeria for greener pastures, which is the reason so many fall prey to traffickers, and the lies of labour recruiters who promise juicy jobs overseas.”
She, however, stressed the need for people to evaluate every offer carefully and seek for second and third opinion before accepting offers outside the country.
“Remember, if a sponsor facilitates your travel, you will be forced to do any job to pay off your sponsor before you earn money for yourself,” Prof. Waziri–Azi further added.
While expressing worries over the increasing number of young Nigerian women suffering in Iraq, she stated that NAPTIP will continue to work with relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies in Nigeria and partners to ensure the safe return of the victims from Iraq.