with her nine-month-old son Mazin
“I was from a very poor family. My mum did not have a job in the village where we used to live, and my dad was sick. So, to support my family I moved to the capital with my aunt when I was 13 and worked as a maid for her.
When I was 15, the husband of my aunt tried to sexually abuse me. I managed to prevent him, but I told my aunt that he was coming to my room at night and trying to have sex with me. My aunt did not believe me. She thought instead that I was trying to seduce him, so she gave me some money and dropped me at the bus station to go back to the village.
My aunt told me that my place was in the village and nowhere else. This made me decide to come to Europe. I did not tell anyone when I left. I managed to get to Nigeria with the little money I had. When I arrived, I was sleeping under trucks and buses as I did not have any money. I had a necklace and a mobile phone, which I sold to get some money and continue my journey.
I managed to get to the border with Niger but there the police turned me back. They said to the driver who was taking me that if we crossed [the border] they would put him in jail. He dropped me near the border and told me he would come back, but he never came back.
I waited there for hours until two men in another car offered to take me to Niger. I told them that I did not have any way to pay them, and they said that if I had sex with them, they could take me without money. I had no other choice.
When I entered Niger, I continued to sleep in the street and under trucks for two months. Then I met another man who told me that he could take me further in the country. He said he wanted to help me and did not ask for any money. He took me in his car, along with a friend of his. At night they started touching me. I told them: ‘No no no’ and asked them to leave me in the street, but they refused and pulled out a knife, so again I had no option. He did what he had to do.
When I reached the next town, I stayed there for eight months, working in a restaurant to earn some money to continue my trip. The condition for getting this job was to sleep with the owner of the restaurant.
The condition for getting this job was to sleep with the owner of the restaurant.
With the money I saved, I managed to continue my journey. At one point they put me in a room with other people, including children. We stayed there for a week. Then a car picked us up and started to cross the desert. The car dropped us in the middle of nowhere, where we stayed for six days. The only food we had were some biscuits and the only water we had was in jerry cans previously used for fuel. Then another car came and took us to Libya.
When we arrived in Libya, we were held in a house for three months. Every now and then, men would come and take girls away [to rape them]. This is where I fell pregnant. At one point another man came to the house and bought me. This is what often happens. People come to the house and, if they see someone they like, they pay money and take the person away with them. The man, Mazin*, treated me quite well. He learnt about my past and we found out that I was already pregnant. We started living together and he treated me as his wife. When we found out about my pregnancy, he asked me if I wanted to keep the baby. I told him that I wanted to keep the baby because I did not know if God would give me another baby in the future.
When I was seven months pregnant, I tried to cross the sea. Many people were put in two boats. One boat left but our boat was stopped by the Libyan police on the beach, before we had gone to sea. Some days later we learned that the first boat was wrecked, and everyone drowned.
We were living in a house which I think was used as a brothel. There was a room in the house where men used to come, every time with a different woman. The women did not stay in the house. Mazin* was helping in this business. If there were not enough women for the customers, he would go and find some. At one point the police raided the apartment and arrested Mazin*. He was put in jail for some time but then he paid some money to the police, and they let him go. After he was out, it was about time for me to give birth. When I gave birth to baby Mazin*, they did not register him because I had no documents, and we could not prove who the father was. So, every time I went out with him, the police would stop me and ask insistent questions about who the father was. I did not feel safe because they did not believe that Mazin* was my child, so I decided to stop going out of the house.
When I tried to cross the sea for the second time, I had decided that I would be better off at the bottom of the sea than back in Libya, even with Mazin*. Mazin* is the reason that I am alive. I had no purpose to live before him. I am not afraid of death but, if something happened to him, I would not be able to deal with it.
My only dream is to be able to help my mum. My family is a polygamous family, and my mum is the third wife. She is very poor, and I do not want anyone mocking her. I want to support her. I want to collect some money and send it to her so that she can start her own business.”