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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                                

Togolese Republic (Togo)

This small, sub-Saharan economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for 65% of the labor force. Some basic foodstuffs must still be imported. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton generate about 40% of export earnings with cotton being the most important cash crop. Togo is the world's fourth-largest producer of phosphate.

Economic growth remains marginal due to declining cotton production, underinvestment in phosphate mining, and strained relations with donors.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Togo

Togo is a source, transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking within Togo is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and the majority of victims are children. Togolese girls are trafficked primarily within the country for domestic servitude, for forced work as market vendors and produce porters, and for commercial sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, girls from Togo are also trafficked to other African countries, primarily Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, and Niger, for the same purposes listed above. Although some Togolese boys are trafficked within the country, they are more commonly trafficked transnationally to work in agricultural labor, including on cocoa farms, in other African countries, primarily Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Benin.  - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Togo.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Direction Générale de la Protection de l’Enfant (DGPE)
Country code: 228-



Children rescued from trafficking wait with their nightmares to go home

U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Lome, 8 March 2005

[accessed 1 March 2015]

The wisp of a girl sits silently to one side, staring at the scarred tips of her fingers. Probably no more than five years old, Enyonam has just arrived at a center for trafficked children in the Togolese capital, Lome  She doesn't remember the day her parents handed her over to work for her "patron". But she does recall the moment when her new master accused her of stealing eggs and burnt the ends of her fingers with a match as punishment.

HRW Report:  Togo - Borderline Slavery - Child Trafficking in Togo

Human Rights Watch, 1 April 2003

[accessed 30 December 2010]

[accessed 13 August 2020]

SUMMARY - TOGO'S TRAFFICKED GIRLS - Girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch were typically recruited into domestic or market labor either directly by an employer or by a third-party intermediary. Most recalled some degree of family involvement in the transaction, such as parents accepting money from traffickers, distant relatives paying intermediaries to find work abroad, or parents handing over their children based on the promise of education, professional training or paid work.

SUMMARY - TOGO'S TRAFFICKED BOYS - Boys interviewed by Human Rights Watch were for the most part recruited into agricultural labor in southwestern Nigeria. A small number worked on cotton fields in Benin, and one child was recruited into factory work in Côte d'Ivoire. Traffickers tended less to make arrangements with boys' parents than to make direct overtures to the boys themselves-tempting them with the promise of a bicycle, a radio, or vocational training abroad. Contrary to expectation, they were taken on long, sometimes perilous journeys to rural Nigeria and ruthlessly exploited. Most were given short-term assignments on farms where they worked long hours in the fields, seven days a week. "When we were finished with one job, they would find us another one," one child told Human Rights Watch.

Boys worked from as early as 5:00 a.m. until late at night, sometimes with hazardous equipment such as saws or machetes. Some described conditions of bonded labor, whereby their trafficker would pay for their journey to Nigeria and order them to work off the debt. Many recalled that taking time off for sickness or injury would lead to longer working hours or corporal punishment.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Togo

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 28 June 2021]


Forced labor occurred in sectors including mining, domestic work, roadside vending, and agriculture. Children were subjected to forced labor (see section 7.c.).


Child labor was a problem. Some children started work at age five and typically did not attend school for most of the school year. Children worked in both rural and urban areas, particularly in family-based farming and small-scale trading, and as porters and domestic servants. In some cases children worked in factories. In the agricultural sector, children assisted their parents with the harvesting of cotton, cocoa, and coffee. Children were involved in crop production, such as of beans and corn, for family consumption.

The most dangerous activity involving child labor was in quarries, where children assisted their parents in crushing rock by hand and carrying buckets of gravel on their heads. The government did not sanction such labor, and it occurred only in small, privately owned quarries. Reputable local NGOs reported that, while quarry work was a weekend and holiday activity for most children, some left school to work full time in the quarries.

In both urban and rural areas, particularly in farming and small-scale trading, very young children assisted their families. In rural areas parents sometimes placed young children into domestic work in other households in exchange for one-time fees as low as 12,500 to 17,500 CFA francs ($22 to $30).

Children sometimes were subjected to forced labor, primarily as domestic servants, porters, and roadside sellers. Children were also forced to beg. Employers subjected children to forced labor on coffee, cocoa, and cotton farms, as well as in rock quarries, domestic service, street vending, and begging. Children were trafficked into indentured servitude. Child sexual exploitation occurred (see section 6, Children).

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Protections against exploitative labor conditions, including rules on working hours, are poorly enforced, and much of the workforce is informally employed. Child labor is common in the agricultural sector and in certain urban trades; some children are subjected to forced labor. According to the US State Department, the government has made efforts to address human trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation, including by identifying more trafficking victims, prosecuting more perpetrators, and stepping up public-awareness programs, though it still fell short on victim protection and other issues.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 7 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 959]

Togo is a source and transit country for victims of human trafficking to neighboring countries, primarily for domestic work, work in agriculture, and commercial sexual exploitation. (13; 4; 25; 29; 30) Parents may be complicit in child trafficking as a result of confiage, which involves sending a child to a relative or friend to attend school in a larger town or city, a practice that may place children at risk of exploitation as a result of internal human trafficking. (3; 5; 10; 30; 4).

A Study on Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation within th Gulf of Guinea countries

James Okolie-Osemene PhD, Department of International Relations and the Director of Research and Linkage Programme, Wellspring University, Nigeria

[Long URL]

[accessed 14 February 2022]

The objectives of this study are to situate and examine the context, nature and networks of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the Gulf of Guinea in order to identify the intersection between the sources, transit and destinations of the illicit trade, interrogate the human rights implications of human trafficking for sexual exploitation around the countries of the Gulf of Guinea on the one hand, and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the anti-trafficking activities on the other hand.

In Togo, a 10-Year-Old's Muted Cry: 'I Couldn't Take Any More'

Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post Foreign Service, Lome, 26 December 2008

[accessed 30 December 2010]

Adiza ran scared and crying into the street. Ten years old and 4-foot-9, she fled the house where she had worked for more than a year, cleaning and sweeping from before dawn until late at night.   She ran to a woman selling food in the street and told her that since the day she had arrived in this capital city from her village in the country, her employer had beaten her almost daily and kept her in slavelike conditions.   "I couldn't take any more," recalled Adiza, a slight girl with close-cropped hair and almond-shaped eyes, who talked in a halting whisper as she described how her employer beat her with her hands and with cooking pots before the November day she ran away.

Rarely making eye contact, Adiza spoke in a shelter here surrounded by other tiny girls who had suffered physical or sexual abuse in the growing global trade in domestic servants.   The number of girls like Adiza, who leave their communities or even their countries to clean other people's houses, has surged in recent years, according to labor and human rights specialists. The girls in the maid trade, some as young as 5, often go unpaid, and their work in private homes means the abuses they suffer are out of public view.

A FRAYING OF TRUST - Adiza was raised in Kpatchile, a few mud huts scattered among fields of corn and yams 250 miles north of Lome. The village is 12 miles from the nearest paved road, and Adiza's home is another quarter-mile down a tiny path through the tall brush.   "Everybody wants to leave," said Yacoumon Djatao, the aunt who raised Adiza, sitting in the shade on a 102-degree day, fighting fever and nausea from her latest bout of malaria -- a common ailment here. Rust-colored sorghum plants were drying on the roof of her thatched hut. She will grind the dried grain into porridge, her main food until the next harvest, six months from now.

A closer look at domestic child labour in Africa

Konye Obaji Ori, AFRIK News, 18 October 2008

[accessed 30 December 2010]

When my master brought me from the village, he said that I will show that I deserved to go to school by proving my hard work at home. I was bent on going to school so I put my heart into everything I was commanded to do. I Swept, cleaned, washed, mopped, ironed, and fetched water from a public tap, two streets away, to fill the drums and basins in our house.  In-between these chores I had to go out and hawk sachets water in traffic and in the streets of the ghetto. I slept last and woke up first. I didn’t eat with my master, his wife and his children at table, I ate a small portion of foodon the floor at the back yard, after they had all eaten. Sometimes I could not work because I was always hungry, but I had to work otherwise knocks and the Koboko cane will descend on me.’ An 8 year old Togolese househelp narrated.

In most African families, wealth entails owning a houseboy or a house girl as they are called. This cultural practice that allows people to take deprived children from the remote villages, offer them shelter, food and sometimes primary education in return for their labor which is often child labor or even slave labor, is an issue that needs to be addressed with regards to human rights, child rights and international labor rights

After 3 years, my master registered me in a community school down the street. It was more like a place where street children passed time, the teachers hardly came to class. My chores and task were still a problem but I managed to deliver, so as to avoid any problem with my master or his wife. I liked school, I wanted to learn but I hardy had time to review my school work or do assignments and when I did poorly, my master or his wife would beat me like a thief. Sometimes I thought of running away, but to where? I wanted to go back to my mother, but how do I tell my uncle that, when the last time I asked about my mother, I was given the beating of my life, called an ingrate and denied food for two days. I wasn’t doing well at school, I wasn’t happy at home, I missed my mother, but I couldn’t do anything about it. All my mother knew was that her son was in the city and was in school, and will be a big shot.’

In smuggling case, 'victims' defend the accused

Brian Donohue, The Star-Ledger, 10 May 2008

[accessed 30 December 2010]

Last September, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested two men and a woman from Togo who they said smuggled 14 girls and young women from West Africa, forced them to work without pay at hair-braiding salons in Newark and East Orange, and kept them in line with threats and beatings.  It was, one agent said, a case of modern-day slavery.  Now, four of the alleged victims say they weren't exploited at all.

They say they long to return to the hair salons -- even if they weren't paid for their long hours performing intricate hair weaves. And worse, they say, their parents in Africa are blaming them for the downfall of the three jailed suspects, who had been sending money to the workers' families before the salons were shut.  When she calls home, says one 21-year old woman, her parents blame her for disappointing the village, then they hang up on her.

Trafficking of African women is thriving

Francois Tillinac, International Labour Organisation (ILO) News, May 10 2007

[accessed 14 November 2010]

In January Italian police smashed several human trafficking rings involving African and eastern European females and netted some 800 suspects.

Outside Nigeria, other main sources of females for prostitution were the west Africa states of Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo.  She said young girls were lured with fraudulent offers of jobs in Europe, only to end up being violently forced into prostitution.

Combating Child Trafficking in Togo through Education (COMBAT)

Project Number: TGO028

[accessed 30 December 2010]

[accessed 27 February 2019]

[also see Page 23 – Togo --

PROJECT DESCRIPTION - CARE's COMBAT project joins in the elimination of child trafficking in Togo, particularly among girls in Central and Maritime regions, through improved and extended programs of education and social support. COMBAT targets children 5-14 years old and is implemented in collaboration with the two local organizations that were CARE's partners in PEP (above) and the international group Terre des Hommes. COMBAT contributes to a multidimensional effort against trafficking; complements the government's efforts to create a policy and enforcement environment; mobilizes communities as the key actors in the social-cultural change required for effective prevention; revitalizes the education system as a cornerstone of prevention and re-integration; deploys NGOs as effective intermediaries and complementary service providers; facilitates coordination and collaboration at all levels; and works with and under the auspices of national and international efforts such as International Labor Organization and International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor.

Children mobilization against Child Trafficking

Plan, Togo

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Child trafficking takes alarming proportions in Togo. It affects communities in the central and south-east area of the country: between 1997 and 1999 police forces had intercept 128 children at the Togolese borders, and between 2002 and 2003 one count 687 children forced into child trafficking.

WHY DO THESE CHILDREN LEAVE THEIR FAMILY? - Poverty, ignorance, children not attending school, the lack of a legal framing are the main factors which make children vulnerable. These children are generally brought to Aguegue (in Nigeria). They found themselves trapped, because Woga – rich traffickers – promise to them bicycles, clothes… others let themselves trap because their friends and brothers told them that the country is beautiful….

Child prostitution goes unchecked in Togo

U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Lome, 23 Apr 2004

[accessed 9 March 9, 2015]

[accessed 27 February 2019]

Adjo says she never knew her real parents. But she and Amivi hand over all the money they earn to a woman whom they call “Mama”.  If the girls give this woman too little cash at the end of a shift, they run the risk of a severe beating.  “At the end of every day I have to give the money to a woman called ‘Mama.’ If I don’t have enough money to give her, I get beaten,” Adjo said.

Besides Adjo and Amivi, there are several hundred other young girls aged between nine and 15 who can openly be bought for sex in the downtown area of Lome called Devissime. The name means “Child Market” in the local Mina language.  Many of these girls have been separated from their families. Others have simply been abandoned. Most are illiterate. Being alone in the world all of them are highly vulnerable to exploitation by pimps and brothel keepers such as ‘Mama.’

Scale of African slavery revealed

BBC News, 23 April 2004

[accessed 30 December 2010]

COMPLICITY - Much of this trade in children often has the tacit collaboration of the victims' own families where it is seen not so much as criminal activity but as a way for a large family to boost its poor income.  Joseph's back bears the scars of his beatings.

The story of Joseph in Benin is fairly typical.  When he was 13 years old, a stranger arranged with his parents for him to go to neighbouring Togo for a better life.  However, he was put to work from 0500 to 2300 each day as a domestic help and was regularly beaten.  It took him three years of saving money to be able to phone home and be rescued by an uncle. Now 16 years old, he is back in school.  "I was so happy to see my little brother again when I returned home to Benin," he says.

Child Trafficking in Togo: A Way Out

Livina Nkiruka Agwunobi,  14 September 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

In Togo, two types of child trafficking exist: internal, and external child trafficking. Children are given away to wealthier relations who used to benefit from the work by those trusted to them, and who are supposed to take care of the children’s education and upbringing. The families from where the children are coming from believe that they are unburdened, the children will be offered a better future and hope for the intensification of the relationship of the two families, but instead they became cheap manpower in urban households. As a compensation, their parents receive a sum of money or other gifts. The agents receive their own commission. They are used as domestic servants and market vendors in the families where they found themselves and maltreatment is the feature of the working conditions. Most children do not receive wages but the money they receive can’t be equalled to the work they do. Sometimes, children are left to the lender as a pawn for a borrowed sum. They are, sometimes, left in exchange for money to a female or male agents without the parents having the chance to influence his fate after the deal. They are recruited or brought by agents in Togo and taken to Gabon or Nigeria and handed over to the employer they are assigned to. Some of them were employed to be used for prostitution.

Child labor on cocoa farms 'tip of the iceberg'

Human Rights Watch, New York, April 1, 2003

[accessed 14 December 2010]

Young Togolese boys told Human Rights Watch they could not afford to pay school fees and so agreed to do agricultural work in Nigeria. They said they cleared brush, planted seeds and plowed fields for up to thirteen hours a day, getting beaten if they complained of fatigue. Some were forced to use machetes to cut the branches of trees and wounded themselves seriously. After eight months to two years, they were given a bicycle and told to pedal it home to Togo.

Building a network against child trafficking

Reporter, Anti-Slavery International, July 2002

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Tens of thousands of children are trafficked in West Africa each year. Although the majority are boys, the largest single employing sector is domestic work and about 90 per cent of all child domestics are girls. They are live-in servants, and unlike child domestics in other parts of the world where most are teenagers, in West and Central Africa most are children are as young as five years old.

In 1997, Anti-Slavery International's partner in Togo, WAO Afrique brought the relationship between child domestic work and trafficking to Anti-Slavery's attention. Even though the practice apparently first became significant in 1987, it was not until the mid-1990s that local organisations became aware of the problem.

Ship Discovered With Human Cargo

Orando Yanquoi, ExpoTimes (Freetown), Accra, Ghana, April, 2001

[accessed 30 December 2010]

[accessed 10 February 2016]

250 children have been discovered aboard a ship in the Gabonese port. The children who were allegedly sold to human traffickers by their parents or guardians were taken to Gabon where they were to be resold into child labour or slavery of all kinds.

According to Zardzo, the children aboard the ship are between the ages of 9,10,and 11, who are able to help government in the relocation of their parents or guardians.  These children are said to have hailed from the two West African countries of Togo and Benin.

Child Trafficking in West and Central Africa

UN Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, 24th Session, Geneva, 23 June - 2 July 1999

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

The effect of trafficking on children is devastating. Children are in danger of being cut off from their roots, losing contact with their own family, sometimes permanently, being subjected to harsh working conditions, as well as physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Research by our partners in Bénin in 1998, found that even where children are rescued, they are likely to encounter feelings of alienation from their own family and culture and must undergo a long and difficult task of reintegration.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2005

[accessed 30 December 2010]

[72] The Committee welcomes the adoption of the National Plan of Action on the fight against child trafficking for commercial exploitation and labor in 2001 as well as the establishment of the Comités de vigilance . However, the Committee is concerned that the Plan of Action did not sufficiently involve the civil society and is not efficiently implemented. It is further concerned that trafficking of children is not a separate offence under the law, despite the wide scope prevalence of the phenomenon. The Committee is further concerned by at the lack of measures taken to combat and protect children from sale, trafficking and abduction.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – While official statistics for trafficked persons were not available, trafficking occurred throughout the country. The majority of the country's trafficking victims were children from the poorest rural areas, particularly those of Kotocoli, Tchamba, Ewe, Kabye, and Akposso ethnicities and mainly from the Maritime, Plateau, and Central regions. Adult victims usually were lured with phony job offers. Children were often trafficked abroad by parents misled by false information. Sometimes parents sold their children to traffickers for bicycles, radios, or clothing, and signed parental authorizations transferring their children into the custody of the trafficker.

Children were trafficked into indentured and exploitative servitude, which amounted at times to slavery. Most trafficking occurred internally, with children trafficked from rural areas to cities, primarily Lome, to work as domestics, produce porters, or roadside sellers. Victims were trafficked elsewhere in West Africa and to Central Africa, particularly Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, and Nigeria; in Europe, primarily France and Germany; and in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Children were trafficked to Benin for indentured servitude and to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana for domestic servitude. Boys were trafficked for agricultural work in Cote d'Ivoire and domestic servitude and street labor in Gabon. They were fed poorly, clothed crudely, cared for inadequately, given drugs to work longer hours, and not educated or permitted to learn a trade. There were reports that young girls were trafficked to Nigeria for prostitution.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 30 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In rural areas, young children are sometimes placed in domestic work in exchange for a one-time fee of 15,000 to 20,000 CFA francs (USD 27.47 to 36.63) paid to their parents.  In remote parts of the country, a form of bonded labor occurs in the traditional practice known as trokosi, where young girls become slaves to priests for offenses allegedly committed by a member of their family.  Abuse of the cultural practice of Amegbonovei, through which extended family relations help to place children (usually from rural areas) with families who agree to pay for the children’s education or provide them with a salary in exchange for domestic work, contributes to the incidence of child trafficking.  Often the intermediaries who arrange the placements abuse the children and rape the girls.  These children are also sometimes mistreated by the families with whom they are placed.

Togo is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking in persons.  Four primary routes for child trafficking in Togo have been documented: (1) trafficking of Togolese girls for domestic and market labor in Gabon, Benin, Niger and Nigeria; (2) trafficking of girls within the country, particularly to the capital city, Lomé, often for domestic or market labor; (3) trafficking of girls from Benin, Nigeria and Ghana to Lomé; and (4) trafficking of boys for labor exploitation, usually in agriculture, in Nigeria, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire.  Trafficked boys sometimes work with hazardous equipment, and some describe conditions similar to bonded labor.  Children are also trafficked from Togo to the Middle East and Europe, and there are reports that girls are trafficked to Nigeria for prostitution.  Parents sometimes sell children to traffickers in exchange for bicycles, radios, or clothing.  Togo also serves as a transit country for children trafficked from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria.

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