Nigerian court slaps 'rare' jail sentence on family which forced teen into prostitution

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A Nigerian family has been sentenced for trafficking.
A Nigerian family has been sentenced for trafficking.
David Prado

A Nigerian court has jailed three family members for forcing a teenager into prostitution in Russia, the country's anti-trafficking agency said on Tuesday.

Two siblings - Vivian Omoyemwen Ehiozee, 31, and Endurance Ehiozee, 37 - were jailed for 14 years and their mother - Helen Ehiozee, 54 - was given a 10-year sentence, said the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

For decades, scores of Nigerian women and girls have been targeted by traffickers, sent to Europe with promises of work, then trapped in debt bondage and forced to sell sex.

While Nigeria's anti-trafficking legislation stipulates both prison sentences and fines, convicted traffickers are often spared jail, said Julie Okah-Donli, director-general of NAPTIP.

The victim was 19 years old when she was approached by the traffickers in 2012, NAPTIP said. They arranged her travel documents and said she would work in a hair salon in Russia.

The mother, Helen Ehiozee, collected nail clippings and hair from the victim as part of a "juju" ritual that made her believe she would be cursed if she fled. Once in Russia, the victim was told she owed $45,000 and forced to sell sex to clear the debt.

The victim paid off her debt after several years and returned to Nigeria, where her testimony helped police identify the traffickers, the agency said.

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