A Nigerian woman made news in May after giving birth to a baby girl on an Italian navy vessel that rescued her in the Mediterranean.
She was one of the thousands of migrants rescued from overcrowded boats while trying to get into an European country.
Guardian caught up with Stephanie who has been at a refugee camp for a progress report. Below is an excerpt from her interview;
A hair stylist from Benin City in southern Nigeria, Stephanie frequently drove with her employer to Libya for business, a journey of two and a half days. It was while selling hair products there that she met and married a Nigerian man, before finding domestic work in Tripoli.
Stephanie decided to flee Libya as her pregnancy progressed and the security situation worsened in the increasingly violent and chaotic country.
“After two months everything was torn upside down; what I wished for wasn’t there anymore,” she said, explaining that she left her husband during the pregnancy because he was violent. A Nigerian woman described as a friend helped arrange her passage to Europe, without asking for payment.
Stephanie’s home city is the departure point for the vast majority of Nigerian victims trafficked to Europe for prostitution, according to a March report by the European Refugee Fund. But she denies knowing about the trade. “I was in the boat and I did not even know I was going to Italy, because in my condition I was so weak,” she said.
In Ragusa, Stephanie passes her time looking after baby Francesca while she waits for her asylum claim to be assessed. Stephanie is hoping to be granted refugee status. “I want my papers, then I’ll start looking for a job,” she said, willing to go anywhere in Italy there is employment.
Turning to her baby, Stephanie said she would also try to nurture any artistic talents she saw in Francesca. “I will take care of her as a mother, for education and everything,” she said.
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