Woman who testified against her human traffickers risks deportation

Despite being threatened with death if she returns to Nigeria, authorities say mother and one-year-old son should be sent back

When 20-year-old Omo Amenahakawon first came to Denmark, she said she thought she would be working as an au pair. The truth turned out to be far different.

Amenahakawon was forced to work as a prostitute in brothels in Jutland and hand the money she made over to the human traffickers who brought her here.

Eventually she found the courage to go to the police and report her abusers. Her co-operation resulted in the capture, trial and incarceration of her traffickers.

During the trial, Amenahakawon received death threats from those behind the human trafficking network in Nigeria.

Despite her willingness to come forward and her co-operation, Amenahakawon has been refused asylum in Denmark and the authorities want to send her and her one-year old son back to Nigeria. By force, if necessary.

Fearing for her life, Amenahakawon has now gone into hiding.

“Our fear is that she will be killed as soon as she gets back to Nigeria, so we are protecting her,” Mogens Petersen, the founder of Christian's Friends safehouse, told DR News.

Amenahakawon cannot understand why the government is turning its back on her.

“I co-operated with the police,” she said. “I testified against my traffickers and they were given prison sentences.”

Amenahakawon said the police at the time advised her to seek asylum in order to protect herself.

Her lawyer, Jens Rye-Andersen, was stunned by the decision to deport his client.

“After what she has endured and what she has done for society, we have an obligation to give her asylum,” Rye-Andersen told DR News. “If a Danish woman had put herself in this kind of danger, she would be receiving protection.”

Rye-Andersen said Danish authorities were violating Amenahakawon’s human rights and that he was ready to take the case to international courts.

Erik Hauervig has investigated cases of prostitution and human trafficking for years, and he feared for Amenahakawon’s life.

“Here we have a woman who was trafficked that stood up against them, put them in prison and all it earned her was a one-way ticket back to the people that exploited her. It's completely crazy,” Hauervig told DR News. “If she is sent home, the Justice Ministry will have her blood on its hands and her son will be sold as a slave.” 

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), said he felt the laws currently in place to help women who are victims of human trafficking are adequate.

“We've stepped up victim protection and efforts against traffickers. If a compelling reason can be shown, a temporary stay can be granted,” he said. “There are broad initiatives available.”

Enhedslisten spokesperson Pernille Skipper said the threat to Amenahakawon’s ought to be enough to afford her protection.

“We must pressure him (Bødskov) as much as possible to improve the protection of victims,” Skipper told DR News.





  • How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    Being part of a trade union is a long-established norm for Danes. But many internationals do not join unions – instead enduring workers’ rights violations. Find out how joining a union could benefit you, and how to go about it.

  • Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals are overrepresented in the lowest-paid fields of agriculture, transport, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, and construction – industries that classically lack collective agreements. A new analysis from the Workers’ Union’s Business Council suggests that internationals rarely join trade unions – but if they did, it would generate better industry standards.

  • Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    The numbers are especially striking amongst the 3,477 business and economics students polled, of whom 31 percent elected Novo Nordisk as their favorite, compared with 20 percent last year.