A Gambian survivor of human trafficking, Fatou Badjie shared her horrible experience in Lebanon.
After graduating from university, Fatou, 23, was approached by a friend about job prospects in Lebanon. He told her that there were job opportunities and that if she decided to go, she would earn a living wage. She was firmly convinced that her friend wanted her well. She agreed to go to Lebanon.
In an interview with Chronicles, the girl said:
“So I jumped at the opportunity without asking questions. He came with a document that I signed without hesitation “.
In the signed document, Fatou agreed to pay a deposit of 53 euros for the processing of his travel documents. For her, it was an opportunity to take her family out of poverty.
“I paid and the next day he brought my passport and visa. Everything was intact. The following week, I left for Senegal. Excited and hopeful, Fatou flew in the early hours of June 26, 2014 and traveled more than 3,500 miles to Beirut in Lebanon.
“I met an immigration officer who immediately took my documents and asked me to follow him. He took me to a small room where I found more than 100 girls of different nationalities.
One of the girls told Fatou that she had been sold by human traffickers. Fatou became scared and confused. She remained awake all night wondering what would happen to her the next day. In the morning, she confirmed that she was in trouble.
“Women came and started to touch me. One of them touched me and asked me to follow her. She told me that she bought me and that I was her slave. I started laughing because I thought it was a joke.
Unfortunately, it was not a joke because Fatou had been sold as a slave of modern times. The woman took her to Hamra, a neighborhood in Beirut where she set the rules of the house.
“She told me that my job was to take care of her husband who had cancer.” Bathing the sick person, changing his clothes and feeding him became Fatou’s daily routine.
“I woke up at 6 am and stopped working when the old man went to bed. I was so frustrated. I never thought I could experience this kind of trauma. “
When Fatou got tired of it, she approached her boss and told her that she wanted to leave. “I told him that the contract I signed in The Gambia stipulated that I came to Lebanon to work in a restaurant and make a living. She told me that she had spent a lot of money for me and that I had to pay everything back before leaving. “
Fatou was forced to stay even though she never received a salary for her work. And his relationship with his boss has deteriorated. Sometimes she put a dish of hot rice on Fatou’s back and ate from there.
One day, she accompanied her boss to the hospital without knowing that there was a plan to operate.
“When we went to the operating room, I was scared. She told me to sit down and wait. In the meantime, I fell asleep and I can not remember anything. When I woke up, I realized that I had been operated on and that my left kidney had been removed without my consent. “
It turned out later that her boss’s sick husband needed a kidney and Fatou’s husband was given a kidney.
Even with a kidney removed, Fatou’s nightmares continued. She was arrested and imprisoned after wounded her boss with a knife in self-defense. In prison, she was regularly beaten and the guards repeatedly tried to sexually assault her.
After 18 months in prison, she escaped and fled to the seaside. With the help of a fisherman she met, Fatou processed her documents and returned to The Gambia in April 2018. .
Today, she spends her time with the Girls’ Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings, an organization she and other survivors of human trafficking created to educate Gambians about this phenomenon.
The Gambia is on the US State Department’s list of developing countries, and in its 2018 report on human trafficking, Gambia says the Gambian Government is not fully complying with minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. although he was making significant efforts in this regard.
“Gambian women are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Kuwait. The Gambian authorities have identified victims of trafficking in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Finland, “said the US State Department.