“They catch you at sea, they mistreat you.”

On board the SEA-EYE 4, Monique told her harrowing story to our crew member Fiona just before Christmas. It gives us an insight into the fate of the young woman, the dangers on the flight as well as the hell in Libya.

“My mother is from Sierra Leone and my father from Mali. I was born a bastard child. Around the age of five my father kidnapped me and we went to Mali. Then the war happened, so he left alone to the USA. I stayed with my grandmother. She mistreated me. My mother was looking for me, my mother didn’t know where I was and I had no news from my father.

In Mali, I had to get married when I was 15. I got an arranged marriage. The man who married me was beating me all day. We had three kids, the third one was born premature. I had the first one at age 15. My last child was at age 20.

I didn’t know what to do… If I stay with my husband he will beat me, if I go back to my family, they will send me away… I left from a tiny village in Mali, I had no money left. I fled my arranged marriage with one of my daughter. An old lady who was sharing an apartment with us, took care of me. Then someone told me that my mother had died. I heard she died homeless.

I met a Nigerian man on Facebook living in Belgium, we fell in love. I tried to come across the Mediterranean Sea. But then I got caught and sent to prison.

There I saw a lot of things. I don’t know why it’s like that, but the pain is too much. They mistreated me, locked me up with no food. If you fall ill, you’ll die there. And then if you want to go back home, you can’t.

They were raping girls in front of everyone.

Once they picked a girl and asked a guy to sleep with her in front of everyone. She didn’t have a choice because they had a Kalashnikov in their hands. He slept with the girl in front of everyone, only because she was black. There was a man who buried his pregnant wife with his two kids. Then he became ill… all his body was emaciated but they wouldn’t let him out because he didn’t have the money. He died in prison, he had no hope left. People who try to escape, will get shot at. In my cell, some people died there. Once there was a guy who tried to escape, they hit him so badly in front of us, all his body was covered with blood.

It’s the same ones who help you cross and then the same ones who bring you to prison. They catch you at sea, they mistreat you. They catch you at home, they mistreat you, in the streets, they mistreat you. They tell you to call home and ask for money. Asking for 1000, 1500 euros. And even if you give that sum, they can still come back. You can buy black people in prison. A guy wanted me, he wanted to have a sexual relationship. He paid 1000 euros for me to come out of prison. But I didn’t want him, so I fled.”

Monique*, 25 from Sierra Leone was rescued along with 223 people by the SEA-EYE 4 on its Christmas mission and safely brought ashore in Pozzallo on Christmas Eve.
*Name and personal data have been changed to protect her.