An estimated 20,000 women and girls were trafficked as sex slaves after being tricked into thinking they were being taken to Malaysia for jobs in the hospitality industry
This was revealed by the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Julie Okah-Donli, on Tuesday, 22 January.
She said a fact-finding team from NAPTIP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) uncovered the extent of the trafficking during a visit to southern Mali in December, according to a report by Reuters.
The women and girls were abducted by human traffickers from Nigeria and sent to Mali, where they were stranded and forced into prostitution
Locals revealed to the operatives that there were more than 200 sites scattered across southern Mali, with 100 to 150 women and girls kept in each site.
Aged between 16 to 30 years old, the women and girls are said to be "held in horrible, slave-like conditions."
"They can't escape because they are kept in remote locations, like deep in forests," said Okah-Donli.
NAPTIP and IOM worked to repatriate 41 victims from Mali in December, and are in the process of bringing others home.
Thousands of women and girls are taken out of Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, each year