The Home Office has come under fierce criticism for suggesting that trafficked women from Nigeria can return to the country “wealthy from prostitution” and “held in high regard”.
These extraordinary comments were made in the Country Policy and Information Note on the trafficking of women from Nigeria, an official government document, used as a guide as to whether asylum seekers face persecution or harm in their home country.
The key paragraph says: “However trafficked women who return from Europe, wealthy from prostitution, enjoy high social-economic status and in general are not subject to negative social attitudes on return. They are often held in high regard because they have improved income prospects.”
Home Secretary must apologise
Sonia Lenegan, an immigration and asylum solicitor who first highlighted the new guidance, said that “in my experience of dealing with Nigerian women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, they do not profit at all from the situation, it is the traffickers who do so. I do not believe that there are many trafficking victims who are returning to Nigeria wealthy after being forced into prostitution, and the source material does not indicate this either”.
CARE’s Senior Policy Officer – Human Trafficking, Louise Gleich said: “This new paragraph is deeply disturbing and misleading. Few people, if any, become wealthy through prostitution and certainly not those who have been trafficked. We are especially concerned the section could be used as a justification by an immigration case decision maker for refusing to grant asylum. The Home Secretary needs to apologise for this new paragraph and amend the guidance, so it is removed.”