By Aderogba George
Prof Fatima Waziri-Azi, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) said that Nigerian women working in Iraq are exploited in diverse ways.
The D-G revealed this in a statement while speaking about the plight of young women in Iraq, saying that the majority of them worked as domestic workers and were exploited on a daily basis.
Waziri-Azi stated that the majority of young Nigerian women are now requesting help to return home.
She stated that NAPTIP was currently looking into several rogue labour recruiters who were reported to be major players in the massive recruitment of Nigerians to Iraq for domestic servitude.
The D-G also stated that the agency’s and other partners’ increased awareness of well-known destination countries around the world had shifted traffickers’ 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 homes by their recruiters 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 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,” she said.
The D-G stated that the situation was a scary one, adding that the workload imposed on the vulnerable by their taskmasters was very worrisome.
Waziri-Azi stated that Nigerian women were constantly being sexually harassed by members of the household where they were serving, and this aggravated their situation.
She called on Nigerians to be cautioned of this desperate quest to travel out of the country for greener pastures, adding that it was the reason many Nigerians wanted to travel.
The D-G stated that many Nigerian women had fallen prey to traffickers and the lies of labour recruiters who promised them juicy jobs overseas.
She stressed the need for people to evaluate every offer that came their way carefully and seek second and third opinions before accepting such offers outside the country.
According to her, “If a sponsor facilitates your travel, you will be forced to do any job to pay off your sponsor before earning money for yourself.”
The D-G stated that NAPTIP would continue to work with relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria and partners to ensure the safe return of the victims from Iraq.