Princess Okokon wins Ieper 'Peace Prize': victim of human trafficking and forced prostitution now helps other girls

Princess Okokon has won this year’s City of Ieper's Peace Prize. It’s an award given to a person or organisation working for world peace. Okokon is a Nigeria chef, who became a victim of human trafficking and ended up in forced prostitution. Today, Okokon herself helps girls in Italy and Nigeria.

Princess Okokon grew up in Nigeria's Akwa Ibom State. She was a chef and ran her own restaurant until a lady invited her to leave Nigeria and work as a cook in Europe. Okokon was flown to London and from there taken to Italy. Only there did it become clear that she was a victim of human trafficking.

In Italy, she was sold to another woman for $13,000. There, she was told she would only regain her freedom if she repaid $50,000 of "debts". As long as she did not repay the debt, she remained the woman's property. This is how she ended up in street prostitution. Eventually, she was able to buy her way out of this human slavery thanks to a client who later became her husband.

Helping victims

Princess Okokon has since started the organisation "PIAM" that identifies and counsels victims of human trafficking. She also helps and supports girls who decide to put prostitution behind them. The girls she can rescue are given shelter in one of her centres in Italy.

In 2020, she also launched an initiative in Nigeria. To prevent girls from becoming victims of trafficking, she helps women by using micro-financing. This allows the women to build their own business, lead independent lives, send children to school and prevents girls from falling into the hands of traffickers.

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