Libya: Migrants sold as sex slaves

Sold as sex slaves and tortured for months, these women migrants were rescued from illegal detention centers in Libya.

Meanwhile in Libya…

“I saw a dark hand cover my mouth and I tasted something bitter. After that I was dizzy, I didn’t know where I was, and I found myself in a bedroom. But I don’t know where exactly. They had kidnapped me. I stayed there from April to July. And throughout that period there was a Sudanese man and five Libyans who raped me. It was really hard.” This account by Fatma, an Eritrean national who fled the dictatorship for Europe, is a reality for numerous migrants who are kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and raped in illegal detention centers in Libya.

More than 1 million migrants in Libya

According to the International Organization for Migration, there are currently between 700,000 and 1 million migrants in Libya. In this country, a gateway to Europe for migrants, there are at least two types of centers where some of them are detained. First, there are the official ones. Then, there are the illegal centers.

Detained in these illegal centers are migrants who have been kidnapped or even bought by militia while they were on the road

Some men and women already exposed these illegal centers in Libya back in 2017. A migrant who experienced these illegal centers described it to Brut, stating, “Even if you had an opportunity to escape, you can’t because at the gate, there are people who have weapons. What are you going to do? Every morning, they beat you. Night and day, they beat you. They torture you.”

Here, torture, slavery or rape are used to put pressure on the families from whom the torturers demand a ransom

Meskiya was held captive for six months in one of these prisons. She was taken in by a Doctors Without Borders residence, which looks after survivors of these illegal prisons. She admitted, “They hit me in the back until it broke. They beat me. They smacked and punched my face. All because they wanted money… They saw that I was about to die. So, they dropped me here and they left.” No data exists on these illegal centers. In the official ones, according to Doctors Without Borders, between 3,000 and 5,000 people are waiting to be freed in very difficult conditions, sometimes for years.