…DG urges the public to be circumspect about job offers abroad

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has raised alarm on the plight of Nigerian young women working as domestic workers in Iraq.

In a press statement issued by Vincent Adekoye, Press Officer of NAPTIP, the Agency said most of the Nigerian young women working there are exploited in diverse ways on a daily basis and now requesting assistance to return home.

The statement quoted the Director-General of NAPTIP, Prof Fatima Waziri-Azi as saying 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.

Prof. Waziri-Azi said 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, have resulted in traffickers now shifting 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”, she said.

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Prof. Waziri-Azi further noted that available information shows that many of these victims have been admitted to the 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 after 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 from 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 second and third opinions 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, departments and Agencies in Nigeria and partners to ensure the safe return of the victims from Iraq.