The women who 'disappeared'


Thousands of young Nigerian refugee women risk being forced into prostitution across Europe. Tearfund partners are working to stop this, by tackling the root causes.

Sex traffickers are targeting the women at migration centres in Italy in what the UN is calling a crisis.

Arriving by boat

The latest figures reveal over 80% of Nigerian women who come by boat via Libya are being trafficked. 

According to the UN’s International Office for Migration (IOM) about 3,600 arrived in Italy in the first six months of 2016.

Migrant reception centres are being used by the traffickers as holding pens for women who then ‘disappear’ – often picked up in a car and driven away, to become prostitutes across Europe.

Many of the women have significant debts and they’re pressured into prostitution to pay these back.

They are led to believe awful things will happen to their families if they don’t honour their debts. They are then forced into prostitution on streets and brothels across Europe.

Generating purpose

A Tearfund partner in Nigeria, the Faith Alive Foundation (FAF), is trying to reverse the trend. It helps young women earn an income, increasing their self-esteem and sense of purpose.

FAF knows many of the women it works with are spiritually broken and vulnerable –  many have HIV/AIDS. 

One of the many ways it helps is to give them skills and tools (equipment) to enable them generate income for themselves.

Tearfund’s Paul Mershak in Nigeria says: ‘It’s heartbreaking for many families to see their daughters trafficked into the sex industry. It creates a huge gap in families as well as worry and concern for their wellbeing. 

‘Our partners, such as FAF, are doing great work to tackle the problem at its source.’

Pray for this:

  • Ask God for a crackdown on all those involved in child and women trafficking.
  • Pray for the Nigerian government to lift the ban on employment for young idle girls and boys so they can find meaning and purpose in the use of their time.

Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.



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