I grew up in Benin city, I watched a lot of families send their daughters, wives, mothers to Italy to 'work', I watched it become so 'normal' that almost every family had an 'Italo babe'.
As much as this should not define the entire Benin Kingdom, it is an unfortunate truth...well, it used to be in the 90's, it has relatively eased over the years.
I recall the first case of the 'Italo' syndrome was with a girl called 'B'.
B's family was soooooooo poor it was heart breaking. The dad was a security man, the mom roasted fish for sale, and the kids where like 20! Okay, I know that's an exaggeration, but they were at least 10 kids, leaving in a 1 bedroom flat. They all looked malnourished, and there was always this rumour that you should only buy fish while it was still being roasted, as if kept overnight, they were stored in the toilet because there was no space in the house!
We avoided their fish like a plague!
Fast forward to the late 90's, I was in Secondary School then.. the eldest daughter B disappeared for a while, amidst rumours of prostitution in Italy trailing the family, I have no proof, but we saw some changes that shut us all up.
B's troublesome brothers became the kids with the designer clothes, they were building a new house and demolishing the old. They now had the biggest house in the street, wore arguably the most expensive outfits, they were no longer malnourished but chubby!
This is the part that scares me a bit, I was secretly happy for them...I am a Christian and certainly do not condone prostitution, but these horrible, troublesome kids had suffered so much that I did not care where the money was coming from, I was just happy to see them lead a better life.
My Question now is :
- Do you think B's sacrifice for her family was a good move?
- If yes, does that mean there is a time/place or reason for something so wrong to seem so right?
I have asked myself this question for years, because if you ever saw the level of poverty B's family lived in, you just might think twice before you play judge over other people's lives.