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Human Rights Watch interviewed forty-one girls who said they were trafficked to, from or within Togo to work as housemaids or market vendors. Girls' descriptions of being recruited, transported, received and exploited revealed a pattern of abuse resembling child slavery.78 They reported being handed over by their parents to known or unknown intermediaries, sometimes for a price, and told they would be receiving formal education, professional training or paid work abroad. When they arrived, sometimes after life-threatening sea journeys, they were housed with employers who ordered them to perform housework and to assist with commercial enterprises. Girls worked long hours without breaks or holidays, in some cases staying up all night to work after having already worked a full day. Few received any remuneration for their services. Numerous girls recounted incidents of intimidation and physical abuse, sometimes leading to permanent injury. Those who fled their employers sought shelter on the street, at police stations or with local NGOs; in some cases, they resorted to sex work at the suggestion of friends. While most were in the custody of their parents at the time of their interview, it is estimated that thousands of Togolese girls are still working abroad in the houses and markets of various West African countries.79

In cases documented by Human Rights Watch, the trafficking of girls began with the recruitment of a child by either an eventual employer or a third-party intermediary. Most girls recalled being approached by a stranger, usually a woman, who came to their villages for the purpose of recruiting domestic workers. One child described her trafficker simply as "a woman who came to the village looking for children."80 Others described their trafficker as "a woman who had been living in Nigeria and knew some of my friends,"81 or "someone I knew but not very well."82 A fourteen-year-old girl from Bassar, who never made it abroad because her boat to Gabon capsized, told Human Rights Watch that "someone came and offered me money to work in Gabon, and I accepted. . . . I didn't know the person; it was a woman, and my parents didn't know her either."83

Although the actual recruitment was usually carried out by a stranger, most girls recalled some degree of parental involvement in the transaction-ranging from parents accepting money from traffickers to parents authorizing traffickers to take their children on the understanding the children would be educated abroad. Kéméyao A., age ten, told Human Rights Watch her mother accepted money from a woman looking for domestic servants:

There was a woman who came to the market to buy charcoal. She found me and told my mother about a woman in Lomé who was looking for a girl like me to stay with her and do domestic work. She came to my mother, and my mother gave me away. The woman gave my mother some money, but I don't know how much.84

According to the girls interviewed, details such as how long they would be staying abroad, how much they would get paid or where they would be staying were rarely worked out before their departure. One mother told Human Rights Watch she sent her four-year-old daughter abroad without any clear idea of what she would be doing. "I was told she would be helping to sell candy," she said. "I wasn't sure how a four-year-old could help, but the woman said she needed help."85

In cases where traffickers did not offer money, they reportedly promised to provide what parents could not themselves afford for their daughters: an education, some vocational training, or the basic necessities of life. "My aunt arrived at my father's funeral," said one child, employed as a housemaid in Lomé from age three to sixteen, "and afterward she told my mother she would bring me to Lomé and put me in school."86 Another child, in training to become a hairdresser, told Human Rights Watch she was offered the chance to finish her studies in Gabon. "[A woman] told me that she knew of opportunities outside of Togo and she could take me somewhere to finish my course, and then I could set up a shop," she said.87 In other cases, the trafficker reportedly promised only a job. "She never asked for any money," one girl recalled. "She just said that if I went with her I would make money to send to my parents."88

In some cases, parents or relatives reportedly paid an intermediary to find work for a child. "I have a sister in Gabon who said I should go work there," said one girl, who said she could not afford to go to school. "She gave some money to a woman to come and bring me to Gabon."89 The girl ended up being one of several girls who boarded a boat in Nigeria which capsized in open seas. Another girl said she was told by a stranger that her sister was expecting her: "a man arrived and said he had been given money by my sister," she said. "I wanted to go with him. He came back a week later and took me to Nigeria in a car."90

Though their expectations differed, many girls spoke of having been scared at the thought of being sent abroad to work. Kafui A., age thirteen, was only eleven when her mother told her she would be going to Lomé to work as a housemaid. "I didn't want to go," she told Human Rights Watch. "I knew that when people brought children there, they mistreated them. My mother told me I would be going to stay with a relative and she would not mistreat me."91 The issue of whether parents colluded with child traffickers appeared to be sensitive for some girls. One girl broke down and cried, exclaiming that she "could not believe how my parents neglected me."92 Akosiwa H., reportedly trafficked into domestic labor when she was only three years old, told Human Rights Watch she confronted her mother after eleven years of working abroad. Now in the care of an NGO in Lomé, Akosiwa said that "I didn't see my mother for eleven years, until she came here last Tuesday. I asked her how she could send me to Lomé when I was three years old. I asked how she could completely forget about me for eleven years, how she could just abandon me like that. She didn't say anything."93

Government and NGO representatives in Togo had varying views about parents' degree of culpability in such situations. The director of cabinet of Togo's Department for the Protection and Promotion of the Family and Children, Koffi Badjow Tcham, suggested that some parents knowingly authorize the trafficking of their children. "It does happen that parents in all knowledge of what's happening will accept ridiculously small amounts of money to give up their children," Tcham told Human Rights Watch. "They unload their children in that way. The government has taken measures to ensure that this kind of action will be severely punished."94 A villager in Afanyagan qualified this statement. "Some [parents] are badly intentioned, and they actually want to commercialize their children," he said, "and some think that in letting them go they're doing something good for their children."95

Girls who were trafficked outside of Togo had particularly harrowing stories to tell, especially those who had faced a sea journey to Gabon. Dansi D., age sixteen, told Human Rights Watch she spent three days on a boat to Gabon, before working as a housemaid there for eighteen months. She said her journey began in the village of Nungbani in Togo, where she and seven other girls boarded a minibus with a woman who said they would be looking after small children in Gabon. The bus drove as far as Lomé, stopped there for five days and then made a one-day journey to Nigeria. Although Dansi was not able to recall where in Nigeria she was, known transit points for children trafficked from Togo to Gabon include Port Harcourt, Oron and Calabar, cities and towns in southeastern Nigeria close to the coast.96

When she arrived in Nigeria, Dansi was abandoned by the woman who brought her and told to wait to be collected by a boat. "I stayed in Nigeria for five months," Dansi told Human Rights Watch. "It was a big house with not many people in it, and [the woman] told me just to wait. I ate gari97 from the stock [she] had left. After five months, a man came and took me to a boat."98 Dansi went on to describe the journey from Nigeria to Gabon. "On the boat, there were over a hundred children, Togolese and Nigerian, and there were some adults, but more children than adults," she said. "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 and cassava and sometimes bread to eat."99

Other stories were similar. Girls told Human Rights Watch that, after being recruited in their villages, they were driven to meeting places in Nigeria where they were told to wait for a boat to arrive. The journey to Nigeria lasted about a day, with some traffickers stopping along the way to pick up other recruits. "We went from Kabou to Sokodé and changed vehicles there," one girl said. "Some other girls joined us in Sokodé, I don't remember how many."100 When they arrived in Nigeria, girls were brought to small towns and left to their own devices. They reported waiting up to two months with nothing to eat and nowhere to stay. Some slept outside; others slept in abandoned buildings. All had to scrounge for food or steal from the local market. "We waited for two months with nothing to do," one girl said. "We would fight and hit each other. We did not have enough food to eat, so we would steal manioc from the market and get beaten by the shopkeeper."101

Birgit Schwarz, a German journalist who interviewed several trafficked children in Togo, told Human Rights Watch she interviewed girls who, while waiting for their boat to arrive, were raped, prostituted themselves, and sold their belongings to survive.102 All were reportedly abandoned by their intermediaries, the women who promised not only to accompany them to Gabon but to find them work or send them to school.

Girls recalled that after a period in Nigeria, boats arrived and helmsmen directed them onboard. They described the boats as wooden barks lacking any navigational equipment or sanitation facilities.103 "There were no toilets," one said. "There were girls defecating on each other and vomiting in the boat. It was impossible to vomit into the sea without falling in."104 One girl told Human Rights Watch she felt sick and had no medicine; another said she had nothing to eat and no clean water for four days. Journalist Birgit Schwarz corroborated these accounts from her own research among trafficked girls, describing the conditions as "awful." "Helmsmen lose their course in the middle of the night and get lost, and there is not even clean water to drink," Schwarz told Human Rights Watch. "The girls are all sick by the time they get to Gabon."105

According to Nigeria's This Day newspaper, trafficked girls disembark at such points in Gabon as Cocobeach, Cap Esterias, Pont Nomba, Owendo, and Ouloumi.106 "They wind up sputtering to shore," Suzanne Aho told Human Rights Watch. "Boats can't go up to the coast so they leave the children off the coast in the water. Many can't swim."107

Many girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they did not make it as far as Gabon. "We got close to Cameroon, but the waves were too strong," one girl recalled. "The boat tipped and nine girls died."108 Human Rights Watch corroborated this account with nine other survivors of the same incident; the tragedy was also reported by the BBC, which stated that sixty-eight "child slaves" had been rescued from a sinking ship.109 When asked about this incident, Aho said that at least eight children had died.110 A recent story in Nigeria's This Day newspaper reported that about 20 percent of children bound for Gabon from Nigeria die in open seas due to boat mishaps, about 150 children in 2001 alone.111 This is probably an understatement: according to the U.S. State Department, the Togolese government reported 700 drownings of trafficked children, half of them Togolese, in two separate incidents in March 2001.112 "These mishaps are caused by the fact that the boats that freight the children are tiny old rickety wooden boats with two old outboard and forty horsepower engines," This Day said. "[T]he boats are overloaded with goods and people without any life jacket or navigational facility."113

While the sea journey to Gabon is clearly the most dangerous journey faced by trafficked children interviewed by Human Rights Watch, others who left Togo also had unpleasant experiences. Human Rights Watch interviewed girls who traveled overland from the interior of Togo to Lomé, Nigeria or Niger. Massoglé G., introduced to a trafficker at age sixteen by her friends, said she was trafficked from Bassar, a city in Togo's northern region of Kara, to Niger. "A woman said she would pay for my trip abroad and then I could work it off and pay her back," she said. "So we went to Niger. I went in a car as far as Kara, and then we met a bus with about twenty girls in it, most older than me but some younger. It took two and a half days to get to Niger. The trip was terrible-we had no food the whole time."114 While Kara was a popular transit point for girls with northern destinations, most girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they passed through Lomé before going to Benin, Nigeria or Gabon. Bébé M. said her would-be trafficker promised to pick her up at a bus station in Lomé but abandoned her there. "The bus [to Lomé] took one hour, and I bought my ticket with money I made from selling oranges and kerosene," she recalled.115 "I waited one and a half hours, but she never came. I went home and never tried going again."116

Girls trafficked from one point in Togo to another reported taking public transportation or being driven by their traffickers in a car or van. According to the ILO-IPEC country report, the bus stations of Kara, Bassar and Sokodé are known to be assembly points for children coming from Togo's Central region, while those of Anié and Bagou are assembly points for children from the Plateau region. The ILO-IPEC report also noted that in addition to Lomé, destination cities in Togo for trafficked children include Kara, Atakpamé and Sokodé, respectively the capitals of the Kara, Central and Plateau regions.117

Receipt and Exploitation
At the end of their journey, girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch performed long periods of domestic and market labor during which they received little to no remuneration and often experienced beatings and mental abuse. The trade in Togolese girls was particularly extensive in Gabon, a relatively wealthy country with a small population and consequently a labor shortage, and where compulsory schooling and strict child labor laws fuel a growing demand for foreign child labor. Although Gabonese law prohibits trafficking in foreign child labor, implementation of this law is limited to periodic round-ups of trafficked children and their repatriation to the embassy concerned.118 A 1998-1999 survey of 600 working children in Gabon found that only seventeen of them were Gabonese. 119 Two years later, in 2001, the NGO WAO-Afrique estimated that there were between 10,000 and 15,000 trafficked Togolese children working in Gabon.120 Commenting on the number of trafficked girls working as housemaids in Gabon, ASI noted in 2000 that Gabon "inevitably has become a great consumer of them and has created a need to use them."121

In terms of work performed, the ASI study noted that girls trafficked to Gabon are employed either by Beninese or Togolese nationals who trade in various merchandise, or by Gabonese families who need a cheap domestic workforce for housework. In the latter case, any salary paid by the girl's host family, on average 50,000 CFA (U.S.$76) per month, is reportedly paid to the child's trafficker.122 ASI cited the case of one trafficker who collected the salary of twelve different girls every month.123 According to ILO-IPEC, some host families include foreign nationals who have obtained Gabonese citizenship but continue to use their former compatriots as intermediaries for recruiting child labor.124

Girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch recalled that upon arriving at their destinations (either within Togo, or in Benin, Niger, Nigeria or Gabon) they either began working for the intermediaries who had transported them or were deposited with a family they had never met before. In either case, they were ordered to perform domestic or market work. Most recalled waking up very early to do housework and spending the day assisting their bosses with small commercial enterprises-selling bread, fruit or milk in the market, grilling skewers of meat on the roadside, or working in a small boutique. At the end of the day, they returned to their bosses' homes and did more housework before bed. One described a typical day as follows:

In the morning I went to the market with my aunt. She sold cloth and I sold rags. I walked around and sold them for 100 CFA [about U.S.15¢]-I would make 900 to 1,000 CFA per day [about U.S.$1.50] and give the money to her. I came home at 6:00 p.m. and made the fire, cleaned the house and put water on the fire. My aunt always told me to be a good girl, not to steal anything from her. She said if I stole anything she would beat me.125

A girl trafficked to Gabon when she was seven said that in addition to working as a housemaid she tended a tomato and pepper garden for five years.126 Another said she carried yams and pineapples on her head at the age of nine. She said she worked in the market all day and then "slept in the store room, with the yams and pineapples."127 Two other girls, Afi A. and Ama D., said they were brought to Anié, Togo by an aunt and deposited at the home of the aunt's daughter; they described their duties:

We sold bread in the market, going around from 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning until night. . . . When we got home, our aunt's daughter 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 two other girls. She was not nice to us. If we didn't sell all the bread in one day, she would beat us with a stick.128

Afi and Ama said they baked bread every night until the early hours of the morning. Asked whether they had to work near the oven, Ama said that "the oven would burn our feet. Once I thought the grill was out so I walked on it and got burned." One day, she and Afi ran into the aunt who had brought them to Anié in the first place. "We told her her daughter was treating us badly," Ama said, "and all she said was, `What do you mean? You didn't come to Anié to play but to work.'"129

Some girls described their day job as "pounding fufu"-an onerous chore in which a large mortar and pestle is used to mash yams or cassava vigorously into a doughy paste to be served with fish, meat or vegetables. "I had to pound fufu from 3:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night," one girl told Human Rights Watch. "I hated it-it was hard and painful work. If I lost any of the yam in the pounding, the woman beat me-slapped me with her hand."130 Another girl said she was unable to continue pounding after a while. "[W]hen I got there, I had to pound fufu from 4:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night," she said. "After a while, I told the woman I couldn't stand it. She never gave me any money, and I said that if she didn't pay me, I would just go back. So she let me sell rice in the market."131

The domestic work described by trafficked children also varied. Girls as young as eight years old said they were told to wash the dishes, sweep floors and prepare food. "My aunt told me I didn't wash the dishes well, so she beat me and insulted me," said one child, trafficked to Lomé when she was less than eight years old.132 Assoupi H., sixteen, trafficked when she was only three, said she was told to carry her aunt's infant. "She told my mother she would put me in school," Assoupi said, "but she gave birth to twins and told me I had to help her look after the children until they were old enough for school. I was only three years old, but I carried her babies and held them for her."133 By the time her children reached school age, Assoupi's aunt was pregnant with twins again. "She asked me to take care of them, too," Assoupi recalled. "I had to fetch water for the house, sweep, wash the dishes and wash clothes. I would bathe the children, cook for them and wash their clothes. When they were young, they cried a lot."134

Of forty-one girls interviewed, hardly any recalled receiving any remuneration for their services: one recalled earning 12,000 CFA (U.S.$18) for three months' work in a boutique in Benin, and another earned 48,000 CFA (U.S.$70) for six months' work in a market in Nigeria.135 In other cases, traffickers apparently found ways to avoid payment. One child said her trafficker promised to send her 25,000 CFA (U.S.$37) after she got home, but said she never received the money.136 Another said she was included by her trafficker in a tontine-a pool of funds into which people contribute small amounts and from which they can periodically withdraw-but never allowed to withdraw.137 Several children said their traffickers paid for their travel abroad, only to order them to work off the debt.138 For the most part, however, girls said they were expected to give all of their earnings to their bosses and to be grateful for having a place to stay. "People like my aunt bring girls to work them like slaves or to sell them," said one girl, now nineteen. "They bring girls there to treat badly but they always take good care of their own children."139

Exposure to Abuse
"In the beginning my auntie was nice to me, but then she changed," Assoupi H., told Human Rights Watch. "Any time I did something wrong, she would shout at me and insult me. Sometimes she would tell her friends what I had done, and they would come over and beat me. . . . She would curse me and say I had no future."140 After eleven years of domestic labor, Assoupi said she was attacked by her aunt's husband:

One night my auntie's husband came home from work and asked me if I had prepared food for him and the children. I said no. He said, "Your aunt gave you money, why didn't you make the food?" I tried to explain, but he jumped on me and started beating me. He dragged me out of the house and told me to go away. That night I came back and went to sleep, and the next day my aunt came home. Her children told her that their father had beaten me. Nobody would speak to me after that, so I felt I had to leave.141

Assoupi's story is far from unique. A majority of trafficked girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted incidents of physical abuse, often repeated abuse. Girls told of being struck with blunt objects and electric wire, and threatened with punishment and sometimes death; beatings were carried out not just by bosses but by others such as neighbors. Human Rights Watch interviews at the Oasis Center of the NGO Terre des Hommes, which houses abused, abandoned and neglected children in Lomé, produced several accounts of girls enduring repeated abuse and then escaping after an incident of abuse beyond endurance:

· Kéméyao A., age ten, said she went to do domestic and market work in Lomé in 2001. She said her mother accepted money from a woman in the market whose sister was looking for a domestic. The sister treated Kéméyao "very badly." "It was a long distance from the market to her house," Kéméyao recalled, "so at the end of the day she took a motorcycle home and made me walk. Often I got home late, and she beat me for not walking quickly enough. She had a special stick for slapping my palms. Sometimes she used her hands, or grabbed a stick and beat me all over my body. I would cry and call for my mother, and she would say, `What will your mother do? You will never go to your mother.'" One morning, Kéméyao's employer woke up after coming home drunk and asked her to heat some soup. "The soup had to be kept warm so it wouldn't spoil," she said, "but it hadn't been properly warmed. My auntie realized it had lost its taste, so she started beating me for not heating it up properly. That day I decided to leave."142

· When Kafui A. was eleven, she was taken to Lomé by a woman she said she had never met before. She said the woman had her sell second-hand clothes in the market and woke her up at 4:00 every morning to do housework. "When she called me and I didn't hear her, she would send her son to get me, and when I came he would kick me and beat me on the head and ask me if I was deaf," Kafui said. One day, she recalled, some other children were going to the well to fetch water so she brought along two pails to fill up. "I couldn't carry both pails," she said, "so I carried one and came back for the other one. When I got to the house the second time, my auntie asked me what had taken so long. I tried to explain, but she didn't understand. She said that if I didn't tell her where I had been, she would beat me to death. She threatened me and said that I was lying, that I had really gone to visit one of my relatives. She started beating me and told me to go outside and clean her daughter's toilet." Kafui A. continued: "When I came back she had locked the door. I knocked and no one answered, so I went to stay at the miller's house. When I came back to her house in the morning, she had already gone to the market, so I decided to run away."143

Sexual Exploitation and Exposure to HIV/AIDS and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Trafficked girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch described a number of situations in which they faced a potentially high risk of sexual exploitation: in transit if they were abandoned (as in Nigeria) and left without care; in domestic labor if they were physically abused and forced to sleep in the same rooms as men or boys; and during return or repatriation if they were forced to live in the street and risk abuse, including sexual abuse, from civilians or police officers.

A few of the girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted a chain of events that began with trafficking and ended with sex work. Human Rights Watch interviewed ten child sex workers in Dekon, a neighborhood in central Lomé known locally as the marché du petit vagin (literally, "market of the small vagina").144 Of them, at least three had been recruited, transported or received in Lomé for the purpose of labor exploitation, consistent with the legal definition of child trafficking: Each of these girls recounted arriving in Lomé to work as a housemaid or in the market, having been offered a job or an education by a relative, family friend or stranger. Their entry into sex work apparently began when, after enduring conditions of exploitation or abuse, they took to the streets and found themselves needing money.145

· Seventeen-year-old Vodou K., from Tsévie, Togo, said her father left for Ghana when she was very young, and her mother died when she was fifteen. She told Human Rights Watch that an elderly woman approached her at her mother's funeral and said she should come to Lomé and work as a housemaid. She agreed, but after four months of work her boss abandoned her and told her to go back home. She then went to stay with a friend who was a sex worker, and her friend convinced her to try sex work. At the time of her interview, Vodou K. said she had been in sex work for a year. Though she said she made about 3,000-5,000 CFA (U.S.$4.50-$7.50) per night at first, she now makes only about 1,000 CFA (U.S.$1.50) per night. She said that on the advice of outreach workers, she always asks her clients to use condoms; however, interviews with other child sex workers cast doubt on girls' actual condom use.146

· Alaba M., age nineteen, is from Nigeria. She told Human Rights Watch she was seven when both of her parents died and her aunt brought her to Togo. When she arrived, she said, she stayed with her aunt in a suburb of Lomé and helped her in the market. She recalled selling bread while her aunt sold cigarettes and soda. She never went to school. She said her aunt's children were very cruel to her, making her carry their bags home from the market, ordering her to do their work, beating her, and teasing her for being an orphan and a servant. After eight years, she finally left and went to stay with one of her aunt's daughters. She said she then met a girl who had beautiful clothes and asked her where she got them. The girl suggested she try sex work. Alaba had been working as a sex worker in Dekon for a month at the time of her interview with Human Rights Watch. She said she insists on condom use, but sometimes clients offer her 10,000 CFA (U.S.$15) for unprotected sex.147

· Seventeen-year-old Sefako K., from Aneho, told Human Rights Watch that her mother died about a year previously. She said her mother had been growing very thin, and that she was told by her grandmother that her mother was bewitched. She recalled a woman approaching her and asking her if she wanted to make some money in Lomé. The woman brought her to another woman who sold rice in Dekon, and she was offered a room and 200 CFA (U.S.30¢) per day to wash dishes. Although the money was reportedly deposited into a tontine on her behalf, she said she was never allowed to withdraw. She decided to go live with a boyfriend, whom she then left to live with a girlfriend. She said her girlfriend was doing sex work and suggested she start going out with her. She now makes about 1,000-1,500 CFA (U.S.$1.50-$2.25) per night as a sex worker. Once, she said, a man offered her 6,000 CFA (U.S.$9) to have sex without a condom and she said yes.148

Girls who engage in sex work face heightened risk of HIV infection. A 1992 study of sex workers in Lomé reported that nearly 80 percent of the women tested were HIV-positive.149 While there are no official estimates of condom use or condom availability among this population, informal interviews with twenty-seven child sex workers in Dekon by the NGO Population Services International (PSI) revealed that condom use was "virtually nil."150 In interviews with Human Rights Watch, most child sex workers said they did not make their clients use condoms at first, but they did now because of the efforts of outreach workers.151 In addition, some girls said clients continued to offer them extra money to forgo condom use, and that sometimes they welcomed the extra income. Nineteen-year-old Efua S., who came to Lomé from Ghana, added that fears of violence made it difficult to insist on condom use. "If I don't pay my rent, they beat me up," she told Human Rights Watch. "I try to use condoms, but sometimes the clients get rough. Three days ago, some guy invited me to his house, and when I got there there was a group of men wanting to sleep with me, one after another. I had to run away."152

According to one villager in Afanyagan, the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS is particularly high for children trafficked to Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire. "Ask children where AIDS comes from, and they'll tell you `Abidjan,'" the villager told Human Rights Watch. "They call the people who have come back from Abidjan `not yet symptomatic.' That's why now no one wants his or her child to go to Côte d'Ivoire."153

In addition to girls who find themselves driven into sex work once they leave their homes, girls trafficked into other forms of labor may also find themselves at risk of (noncommercial) sexual abuse. Trafficked girls who work as housemaids, in particular, may be exposed to sexual abuse in the household. Some of Human Rights Watch's witnesses reported staying in the same bedrooms as older boys or men from their employer's family or family acquaintances; others recalled boarders renting rooms from their employers. "There were a man and a boy there," said one girl, trafficked at age seven. "I was afraid the boy would rape me."154

Girls also faced situations of vulnerability to sexual abuse when, after leaving places to which they were trafficked, they were offered assistance by male strangers. Some such assistance was clearly well intentioned (see below, under "return"), but the risk to girls is obvious. Amina Kodjovi-Numado, director of Terre des Hommes' Oasis Center, told Human Rights Watch that between January and May 2002, approximately twelve children arrived at the Oasis Center saying they had been sexually abused. "The sexual abuse cases are quite numerous," agreed Professor Djassoa Gnansa, a psychologist who counsels children at the Oasis Center. "Girls can be cornered in a bedroom. Sometimes someone abuses their kindness-they say, `bring me a cigarette, bring me water' and then they corner them."155 Suzanne Aho recalled thirty-seven cases of sexual abuse against trafficked girls in the past year; she told Human Rights Watch that "some of the girls who come back are [HIV] positive."156 Kodjovi-Numado told Human Rights Watch that Terre des Hommes administers an HIV test to every girl who says she has been sexually abused and whose parents cannot be located.157

Girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted spending anywhere from three months to nine years in their city or country of destination, after which they either fled or left with their employer's permission. As described above, many recounted fleeing after an incident of physical abuse.

When asked to describe their return home, girls reported coming under the protection of Togo's repatriation and reintegration procedures (these are detailed in Section VII: State Response), and of spending time in local police stations, in the offices of the Department of Social Affairs, and/or in NGO-operated shelters such as Terre des Hommes' Oasis Center in Lomé. Some who had been trafficked to a foreign country said they spent time in the Togolese embassy before being flown back to Togo. One child recalled her trafficker having to pay for her airfare back to Togo, a requirement that journalist Birgit Schwarz found to be common in her interviews with trafficked girls.158 According to Schwarz, who accompanied several girls on a flight from Gabon to Togo after they were found in Libreville, Gabon, and brought to the Togolese embassy repatriated children were typically met at the airport and photographed by a representative from the Ministry of Social Affairs.159

Other, less fortunate girls described falling through the cracks of the reintegration process. They recounted spending nights in the street, knocking on the doors of churches and accepting the kindness of strangers. One child told Human Rights Watch she accepted a ride from a Nigerian driver who dropped her on the side of the road long before reaching her village.160 Another said that, at the age of fifteen, she agreed to marry someone in exchange for being taken back to Togo. "I was desperate," she said, "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."161

Déla N. described for Human Rights Watch how she made it all the way from Nigeria to Togo before the police intervened:

I met a man I knew and he asked me why I was leaving. I didn't say anything, only that I was going back to my mother. He gave me 2,000 CFA [U.S.$3] and gave me directions telling me how to get home. I spent 300 naira [U.S.$2.50] on a truck to the Benin border. There I took a car to the border of Togo and Benin. When I arrived it was nighttime, so I had to sleep there. It cost fifty CFA [U.S.7¢] to sleep [at an inn], and the next day I discovered my money was stolen.162

After arriving in Togo, Déla said she was invited into the home of an older, male stranger:

I met a man making tea on the roadside-he called me, I went over, and he asked me what happened. I told him everything. He asked me to stay with him for the following day and said he would take me to my house. I went to his house on Saturday and stayed there Saturday and Sunday. He promised he would take me to my village. He asked some people if he should do this, and they said it wasn't the right thing to do, that it would be better to bring me to the police. He brought me there, and they brought me home.163

A similar experience was recounted by Afi A. and Ama D., the two girls trafficked to Anié to bake and sell bread. After selling 1,500 CFA (about U.S.$2.25) worth of bread one day, they took that money and escaped by paying a bus driver to take them back to Sirka, their home village. Midway through the journey, however, the driver reportedly told them that 1,500 CFA was not enough and dropped them on the side of the road. They said a stranger found them and took them to officials from Social Affairs in Sotouboua, and from there they were taken to Sokodé. Social Affairs found temporary housing for them in Sokodé for two nights, after which they said they were brought to Kara to await their parents.

In one case documented by Human Rights Watch, a girl said she was intercepted by police at the border and placed in juvenile detention for five days, a practice that Judge Emanuel Edorh, chief magistrate of Togo's children's court, insisted he did not authorize.164 "The police stopped us at the border and asked where we were going," the girl said. "First they took me to the lock-up, and I was there for one night with three other girls and two women. After one night, they took me to the detention center where I was questioned. I was there for five nights, and then Terre des Hommes came and took me back to the village."165

Girls Trafficked to Togo from Other Countries
Although Togo is principally a "sending" state with respect to child trafficking, Human Rights Watch interviewed some girls who were trafficked to Togo from Ghana or Nigeria. The precise extent of child trafficking to Togo is not known, although ILO-IPEC notes that most children who are trafficked to Togo come from the Mono region in Benin and the Volta region in Ghana. The ILO-IPEC report does not specify whether children trafficked to Togo tend to be boys, girls or both. However, the fact that a significant number of girls are trafficked into domestic and market labor from the interior of Togo to Lomé suggests that there is a substantial demand for female child labor in that city, which may be filled in part by girls from neighboring countries.

One girl from Nigeria, trafficked to Lomé when she was fourteen, told Human Rights Watch she expected to be attending school in Lomé but ended up working as a housemaid and in the market for five months. "I couldn't even stay with [my boss]," she said. "I slept outside, and the woman slept at home."166 Another, trafficked from Accra, Ghana when she was fifteen, said she was brought to the home of her grandmother's sister and was told to look after the woman's baby. She said she was beaten whenever the baby cried and that eventually she escaped and ended up at Terre des Hommes' Oasis Center.

When Human Rights Watch met ten-year-old Abena R., she had recently arrived at the Oasis Center with a badly fractured hand. She said that when she was seven years old, her sister urged her to accompany a stranger from her home in Accra to Lomé. "I never knew the woman before," Abena said. "She took me in a car from Accra to Lomé. I was alone, and it took two to three hours."167 When Abena arrived in Lomé, her trafficker brought her to another woman, who made her prepare food, wash her children's clothes and wash dishes. "She often beat me," Abena said. "She would ask me to do some work and would say, `Do it quickly or I'll beat you!'"168 One day, Abena went to fetch ice water for somebody instead of bringing her boss a chair as she was asked. "When I came back, my boss yelled at me and beat me with a stick," she said. "She broke my hand. She didn't take me to the hospital."169 According to Terre des Hommes, Abena's hand is paralyzed and may never heal.

78 International conventions define child trafficking as a "practice similar to slavery" whether or not the child is unpaid or kept under physical constraints. This is discussed in greater detail under "Legal Protection against Child Trafficking," below.

79 C. Mally, "L'Evaluation de la situation du trafic d'enfants au Bénin, au Burkina Faso, au Mali et au Togo" (2001), p. 26, cited in Amouzou et al, "Trafic d'enfants au Togo," pp. 23-24.

80 Human Rights Watch interview, Vogan, April 29, 2002.

81 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

82 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 14, 2002.

83 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

84 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 14, 2002.

85 Human Rights Watch interview, Hahatoe, May 11, 2002.

86 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

87 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

88 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

89 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

90 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

91 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

92 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

93 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

94 Human Rights Watch interview with Koffi Badjow Tcham, Lomé, May 7, 2002.

95 Human Rights Watch interview with villagers, Afanyagan, April 29, 2002.

96 Port Harcourt and surrounding areas were identified as transit points in a 1998 UNICEF-Gabon study cited in ILO-IPEC's 2001 country study. Birgit Schwarz, a German journalist who has documented child trafficking in West Africa, told Human Rights Watch that girls were harbored in the coastal areas of the Niger Delta in such towns as Oron and Ibuno. Calabar was identified as a transit point in ILO-IPEC's country study of child trafficking in Nigeria, cited in the 2001 synthesis report. The Niger Delta, where many Togolese girls are left to wait for boats to Gabon, is a coastal wetland formed by the River Niger. Abalo, "Trafic des enfants au Togo," note 8. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Birgit Schwarz, Der Spiegel, New York, June 4, 2002. ILO-IPEC, "Sythesis report," p. 25.

97 A dough made of cassava (manioc); the staple starch in much of West Africa.

98 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

99 Ibid.

100 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

101 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

102 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Birgit Schwarz, New York, June 4, 2002.

103 Some girls traveled in pirogues, which are long, narrow canoes made from a single tree trunk.

104 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

105 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Birgit Schwarz, New York, June 4, 2002.

106 "Child Trafficking-Another Shock from Libreville," This Day, April 2, 2002, at (accessed April 8, 2002).

107 Human Rights Watch interview with Suzanne Aho, Lomé, May 6, 2002.

108 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

109 "Child Slaves Returned to Togo," BBC News, September 24, 2001, at (accessed May 29, 2002).

110 Human Rights Watch interview with Suzanne Aho, Lomé, May 6, 2002.

111 "Child Trafficking-Another Shock from Libreville," This Day, April 2, 2002.

112 U.S. State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001.

113 "Child Trafficking-Another Shock from Libreville," This Day, April 2, 2002.

114 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

115 Human Rights Watch interview, Hahatoe, May 11, 2002.

116 Ibid.

117 Abalo, "Trafic des enfants au Togo," pp. vi, xii.

118 Adihou, "Trafficking of children between Benin and Gabon," p. 13.

119 Ibid., p. 10. Of the remaining 583 children, 10.8 percent were found to have been trafficked, and 40 percent said they wanted to return to their countries of origin.

120 C. Mally, "Trafic d'enfants au Bénin, au Burkina Faso, au Mali et au Togo" (2001), p. 26, cited in Amouzou et al, "Trafic d'enfants au Togo," pp. 23-24.

121 Adihou, "Trafficking of children between Benin and Gabon," p. 10.

122 Ibid., p. 11.

123 Ibid., p. 12.

124 ILO-IPEC, "Synthesis report," p. 16.

125 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

126 Human Rights Watch interview, Afanyagan, April 29, 2002.

127 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 14, 2002.

128 Human Rights Watch interview, La Binah, May 3, 2002.

129 Ibid.

130 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

131 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

132 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

133 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

134 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

135 Human Rights Watch interviews, Vogan, April 29, 2002, and Bassar, May 3, 2002.

136 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

137 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

138 Human Rights Watch interviews, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

139 Human Rights Watch interview, Tsévie, May 11, 2002.

140 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

141 Ibid.

142 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 14, 2002.

143 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 15, 2002.

144 PSI-Togo, "Visite de reconnaissance auprès des travailleuses du sèxe de Lomé" (April 11, 2002).

145 Anne Kielland, a consultant for the World Bank, told Human Rights Watch she found a similar pattern in several unofficial interviews with child sex workers in Benin in the late 1990s. Kielland interviewed seventy-one child sex workers, of whom twenty-four were Togolese, in two cities in Benin. In her view, at least 80 percent of the girls had initially been employed as domestic workers in Benin, "many of them probably trafficked." E-mail communication to Human Rights Watch from Anne Kielland, May 30, 2002.

146 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002. On girls' incentives not to use condoms or inability to negotiate condom use, see Human Rights Watch interviews with Alaba M., Sefako K. and Efua S., this section.

147 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

148 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

149 WHO/UNAIDS, "Togo," Epidemiological fact sheets on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, p. 3.

150 The sex workers interviewed by PSI came not only from Togo, but from Ghana, Nigeria, and Benin. Many said they had entered sex work because, having been mistreated by their host families, they were forced to escape and live in the street. PSI-Togo, "Visite de reconnaissance."

151 The girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch were identified through Forces en Action pour le Mieux Être de la Mère et de l'Enfant (FAMME), an outreach organization that specializes in women's health and condom distribution.

152 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

153 Human Rights Watch meeting with villagers, Afanyagan, April 29, 2002.

154 Human Rights Watch interview, Afanyagan, April 29. 2002.

155 Human Rights Watch interview with Prof. Gnansa C. Djassoa, Lomé, May 8, 2002.

156 Human Rights Watch interview with Suzanne Aho, Lomé, May 6, 2002.

157 Although Kodjovi-Numado was not able to provide figures on the percentage of girls who test HIV-positive, she said there were two children currently living in the Oasis Center who had tested positive. She was not, however, able to confirm whether these two children had been trafficked. Human Rights Watch interview with Amina Kodjovi-Numado, director, Oasis Project, Terre des Hommes, Lomé, May 7, 2002.

158 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Birgit Schwarz, New York, June 4, 2002.

159 Ibid.

160 Human Rights Watch interview, Hahatoe, May 11, 2002.

161 Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

162 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 14, 2002.

163 Ibid.

164 Although the girl did not identify the border she attempted to cross, she did say she was bound for Nigeria and that she and her aunt "only got as far as Lomé" before "the police caught up with us at the border." The border was probably the one between Togo and Benin, approximately 70 kilometers from Lomé. Human Rights Watch interview, Bassar, May 3, 2002.

165 Ibid.

166 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

167 Human Rights Watch interview, Lomé, May 17, 2002.

168 Ibid.

169 Ibid.

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