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Children’s testimony from Borderline Slavery: Child Trafficking in Togo
All names have been changed to protect the identity of the witnesses.

On their recruitment by child traffickers:
My friend had an aunt in Gabon, and she came and saw the conditions we were living in. She said she had a good job in Gabon, so I should accompany her there and work with her. My mother was very seriously ill, and my friend’s aunt said that when we got to Gabon, she would find me a job as a trader so that I could send money to my mother for medicine…I was willing to go because of how she spoke about it. She never said how much money I would be making.
—Dado K., age twenty-nine, trafficked to Gabon when she was sixteen

I was going to school here, but things weren’t going well. We were poor and had no money, so I decided it would be a good idea to go to Nigeria. Life was hard, and a friend told me I should go, so I decided to because I wasn’t doing anything here. I thought if I could go to Nigeria and get rich, I could come back and learn a trade. I knew people who had been and come back, and they brought back a lot of things: bicycles, radios, sewing machines, some even brought second-hand motorcycles. They told me they worked in the fields and made a lot of money, but none of them wanted to go back. They said the traffickers deceived them—they said, when you go you won’t do any difficult work, you will only do small work and make lots of money. I thought I could do it.
—Etse N., age eighteen, trafficked to Nigeria when he was seventeen

On their transport to a country of destination:
After I waited five months in Nigeria, a man came and took me to a boat. On the boat, there were over 100 other children, Togolese, Nigerian, and there were some adults, but more children than adults. I talked to some of them, and all the girls were going to Gabon to work. It took three days on the boat to get to Gabon. They gave us gari [a dough made of manioc] and sometimes bread to eat.
—Dansi D., age sixteen, trafficked to Gabon when she was thirteen

The boat was very full . . . . There were no toilets. There were girls defacating on each other and vomiting in the boat. It was impossible to vomit into the sea without falling off the boat.
—Atsoupé S., fourteen, trafficked to Gabon when she was thirteen

We left very early in the morning in a car. We went to Kambolé for three days and then to Tchamba. In Kambolé, there were seven boys in the house where we stayed. The man looked for a vehicle to take us. When we left, there were nine of us; the others were older than I was. It was a truck with room for baggage. We had to get out of the truck at the border. The crossing was difficult; we were practically in the bush. It took one week to get to Iseyin because we broke down on the way.
—Mawuena W., age nineteen, trafficked to Nigeria when he was eleven

On their receipt and exploitation:
The woman took us to her daughter and daughter’s husband. Our job was to sell bread. There were two other girls living in the house doing domestic work. We sold bread in the market, circulating from 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning until night. At the end of each day we gave all the money to our patronne. We were given 75 CFA francs (about U.S.10¢) per day for lunch. At night we baked the bread for the next day. When we got home, our boss gave us the flour for the next day’s bread. She showed us how to make the bread, and we did it with her and the two other girls. The boss was not nice to us. If we didn’t sell all the bread in one day, she would beat us with a stick…The oven would burn our feet. Once I thought the fire was out so I walked on it and got burned.
—Afi A. and Ama D., ages eleven and twelve, trafficked to Anié, Togo when they were ten and eleven

If anyone didn’t work well, they would yell. If you said you were sick, they never believed it, and you had to keep working. It was only when someone had a cut on the leg from a machete or something else that they could see bleeding that they would let you stop working. We were there for eleven months. At the end of that time, we got bikes. We had to find the path to get home; the guy who showed us had to be paid. It took nine days to get home, and we only could eat some days because of people of good will in Benin.
—Yawo S., age seventeen, trafficked to Nigeria when he was nine

On their return to their country of origin:
I decided to talk to the customers who came to [the market] to see if they could help me. Finally a boy told me that he would take me back to Togo if I would marry him. I was desperate, so I said yes just to get out. Now my brothers are working hard in the fields to pay off that boy so I don’t have to marry him. I’m back living with them, and I’m in an apprenticeship again for hairdressing. The boss there lets me make some money sometime pounding and selling fufu [a dough made of yams or cassava].
—Sogbossi K., age sixteen, trafficked to Nigeria when she was fifteen

After nine months, they gave us a bike and a radio. Someone showed us the road for going home, and we had to pay him, too. He left us in Benin. We came back on our bikes—it took nine days. We had to pay 500 CFA [about U.S.75¢] to cross each of the two rivers. After five days, we ran out of the gari we had in the beginning.
—Koudjo N., age nineteen, trafficked to Nigeria when he was fifteen