Feature:World Cup 2018, Nigerian women in sex Slavery . Blessing Obuson thought Russia’s soccer World Cup would be an opportunity to find a job and flew into Moscow from Nigeria last June on a fan ID. Instead, she found herself forced to work as a prostitute.
Though the Fan IDs allowed visa-free entry for supporters with match tickets, it did not confer the right to work. Despite that, Obuson, 19, had hoped to work as a shop assistant to provide for her 2-year-old daughter and younger siblings back in Edo state.
Instead, she said she was locked in a flat on the outskirts of Moscow and forced into sex slavery along with 11 other Nigerian women supervised by another Nigerian madam.
She later told Reuters after being freed by anti-slavery activists, that her madam confiscated her passport and told her she must work to offset a fictional debt of $50,000.
Two Nigerians were later arrested and charged with human trafficking after striking a deal to sell Obuson for about $30,000) to a police officer posing as a client according to her lawyer.
Eight other Nigerian women aged between 16 and 22 brought into Russia on fan IDs and forced into sex labour confirmed similar stories to Reuters.
In September, a Nigerian woman was killed by a man who refused to pay for sex, police said. The Nigerian embassy later identified her as 22-year old Alifat Momoh who came to Russia from Nigeria with a fan ID.
Russian police say 1,863 Nigerians who entered the country with fan IDs had not left by Jan. 1, the date when the IDs expired.
Kenny Kehinde, who works with several Moscow NGOs to help sex trafficking victims, estimates that more than 2,000 Nigerian women were brought in on fan IDs.
But Both Russian police nor the Nigerian embassy in Moscow could replied to Reuters request for a comment.
“Fan ID is a very good thing, but in the hands of the human traffickers it’s just an instrument,” says the anti sex slavery body calling for more cooperation between the authorities and anti-trafficking NGOs during major sporting events, including the 2022 Qatar World Cup where a fan ID system is also being considered.
Anti-slavery group Alternativa said its helpline had fielded calls from Nigerian women held in St Petersburg and other World Cup host cities in Russia.