How I was forced into prostitution
Cases of African girls being lured into foreign countries with the promise of good jobs and great salaries, only for them to end up in illicit professions, have become common. In our second installment of Mercy’s ordeal in Dubai, she describes how she found herself between a rock and a hard place, and the tough choice she had to make.
You may be asking yourself, how can a person force you into prostitution? Why not report them to the authorities? Can’t you escape and get another job? If they expect you to reimburse their money, why don’t you sign a contract with them, committing yourself to repay them from other legitimate means? Trust me, I also asked her the same. Unfortunately, she didn’t have an option but to do it since she couldn’t reach the police, had no internet access, didn’t have a cellphone, and didn’t know anyone there. And even if she could, she would get arrested and deported immediately.
Being Nigerian in this country is not easy because of our few law-breaking countrymen who have soiled our reputation. It’s harder for a Nigerian national to get a decent job here as compared to other nationalities, with companies unable to process their employment visas due to the numerous restrictions imposed.
Mercy found herself in a precarious situation. She had a daughter to work for and dreams to chase, yet despised her only means of achieving them. She contemplated between getting deported, which meant going back home worse than she came, and enduring this new way of life for a while then having a better life after clearing Mama’s debt. She opted for the latter. She prayed to God, apologizing in advance for what she was about to start doing, then pulled herself together and told Mama she was ready to start working.
Since most new girls don’t usually get clients on their first night out, it is normally designated as their orientation day, for them to see how things are done and prepare themselves psychologically. Unfortunately for Mercy, as soon as they stepped out, a man stopped them and asked for her. She’s very beautiful I must say, and despite being an amateur, her beauty outshined the rest. She attempted to pass the client to another girl, but their keen-eyed leader gave her a menacing look; a warning. She moved closer and helped bargain the terms for engagement, as Mercy silently prayed that the deal would fall through but sadly it didn’t. That’s the night she will never forget, the night she got initiated into prostitution.
She became Mama’s favorite because she used to get the most clients, thus bringing in more money than the others. Understandably it was a traumatic experience for her so she chose to focus on the bright side, the fact that she would finish repaying the debt early. Her swift progress infuriated some of the girls to a point where they didn’t want to work on the same street as her, while others never alerted her whenever the police were around.
Within six months she had cleared Mama’s debt and gained her freedom. She was now at liberty to decide whether to stay in the business or leave. She had promised herself that she would leave the profession as soon as she clears the debt, but she still needed money to sustain herself and maintain her daughter’s school needs. So, she continued for a few more months with most of her clients being returning ones who called her for ‘delivery.’ In time, she was able to save enough money to acquire her visa and improve her life but left that line of work when she got a job as a waitress.
Having gotten used to quick money, her new job felt ‘slow.’ At times, she considered accepting offers from her old clients, but would often discard those thoughts, reminding herself of the promise she made to herself and her God. Presently, Mercy has plans to help women willing to cross over from prostitution to other legitimate sources of income, but haven’t mustered enough courage to do so.