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Nigerian woman rescued in Lebanon after being posted for sale on Facebook

The woman was put up for sale at the price of $1,000, with her passport posted online

A Nigerian woman who was put up for sale for $1,000 on Facebook in Lebanon has been rescued, a government body representing Nigerians abroad has said.

The woman in her early thirties from the city of Ibadan in western Nigeria was now “safe” and her brother in Nigeria had been contacted, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, which falls under the foreign ministry, told Middle East Eye.

This comes as Lebanese authorities on Thursday arrested Wael Jerro, the man thought to be responsible for the advertisement, which it said could fall under the crime of human trafficking.

Jerro posted the passport of the victim on the "Buy and Sell in Lebanon" Facebook group, according to screenshots.

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“Domestic worker from Nigeria for sale with new legal documents. She’s 30-years-old, she’s very active and very clean. Price: $1,000,” he wrote in Arabic.

The message drew an angry response before reportedly being deleted.

One user who claimed to have contacted the Nigerian mission, wrote: “Dear People, come and see what this human is doing. Selling this Nigerian housekeeping lady for $1000.”

Following the arrest of the suspect, a statement from Lebanon’s General Security said that such advertisements are illegal as they “fall under the crime of human trafficking and the publisher is subject to prosecution before the courts”.

Abuse of migrant workers is widespread across Lebanon under the kafala system, which binds workers to employees and gives them few rights. It is estimated that two workers die per week, often through suicide or while attempting to escape. 

In March, the body of 23-year-old Ghanaian woman was discovered days after she made a desperate plea for help in social media posts. Police are investigating it as a suicide.

A string of Nigerian domestic workers have been rescued from Lebanon in recent months due to abuse. 

“What’s really at issue is the fact that in Lebanon, nothing stops the rape and abuse of this human merchandise, imported on an industrial scale from some of the poorest countries on earth," said a spokesperson for This is Lebanon, a coalition of former domestic workers in Lebanon that regularly names and shames abusers.

“Instead of asking that the man be punished, Lebanese should be asking why this man felt comfortable enough to put another human up for sale in the first place.”

A spokesperson for the Commission said they were dealing with hundreds of cases of abuse of Nigerian domestic workers across the Middle East, including in Lebanon which they described as “very dangerous”.

“We’re dealing with sexual harassment and abuse, cases of men abusing them and wanting them not to tell their wives, death threats.”

Recent posts on "Buy and Sell in Lebanon", which remains active, include ads for tyres, electronic keys for Mercedes automobiles, and tubs of apple-flavoured shisha tobacco.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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