Gloria Omoresewua was just a teenager in 2003, when a Nigerian woman brought her to Spain and she was forced into prostitution. Omoresewua made an agreement with the woman, who had promised her a better life in Europe: Omoresewua was to pay her 45,000 euros ($50,200) before she could gain her freedom.
For every man she slept with for 30 minutes, Omoresewua earned 20 euros. Every month, she sent 500 to 1,000 euros back home to her family in Nigeria.
After paying about 30,000 euros back to the woman, Omoresewua became tired of prostitution and decided to quit. The woman threatened her that if she did not pay her back fully, she would be arrested.
“I didn’t have a job and was sleeping in the streets,” said Omoresewua, now 33. “I was tired and wanted to come back home.”
“My father said I should come back, but my mother didn’t agree when I told her I wanted to come back. My brothers said I should not come back. I decided to return when an NGO in Spain paid for my flight,” she said.
Since 2015, when Omoresewua returned to Nigeria, sisters from the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul have been helping her reintegrate back into society. They and other sisters from different congregations in Nigeria are fighting human trafficking through advocacy and creating awareness to dissuade young girls and women like Omoresewua from taking a dangerous route across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, where they can be trafficked into prostitution or slavery.
Since 2017, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) has flown home more than 10,000 Nigerians who could not get to Europe after being in countries like Libya, Mali and Niger. A 2017 report from the organization said of the more than 181,000 migrants who traveled by sea from Libya to Italy in 2016, more than 37,000 were Nigerian, with Nigerian women and unaccompanied children accounting for 11,009 and 3,040 travelers, respectively. Eighty percent of those women and girls are likely to become victims of sexual exploitation, IOM said.