A thirteen-year-old girl, Precious Udu, who was taken from Obudu in northern Cross River State to Calabar to work as a house maid, has allegedly been bathed with hot water severely burning her neck, shoulder and chest even as she was not allowed to attend school by her mistress.
Precious said sometime in 2012, one Amaman approached her mother and appealed that her sister residing in Calabar needed somebody to stay with her and that she should allow Precious to be taken to Calabar to serve as housemaid to the sister.
“When my mother accepted, Sister Amaman then said I had to stay with an acquaintance for her to study my character and, if she approved of my behaviour, I would then be taken to Calabar and I stayed with her for about three months before my intending mistress came and took me to Calabar”.
The victim said when they got to Calabar, she asked her mistress to seek for admission for her in a public secondary school but the mistress refused insisting that her son whom Precious was brought to take care of was still small, so Precious should continue to take him to school and bring him back to home. “I was attending Girls Secondary School Obudu and I was in JSS 1 even when I was with her acquaintance, she allowed me to go to school but my mistress said because of Junior, her son, I could not attend school.”
The distraught girl said whenever her mistress’ husband returned to Port-Harcourt where he works, she would be subjected to maltreatment by the mistress and her younger brother, who would beat her and refuse her food making her to run out of the house to stay with neighbours.
“And anytime I ran out to stay with neighbours, my mistress would come knocking to ask ‘if the little girl staying with her was in their place and if they said yes, she would take me back to the house; even when I said she should take me back to my mother”.
This continued until March 9 when Precious said, “I unplugged hot water from the socket and was turning it into the drinking bucket when my mistress’ brother said the water touched him and went and brought a bowl and took the hot water I was turning and poured it on my face but I dodged and the water poured on my shoulder and neck”.
She said when she told her mistress, she did nothing. “It was Tuesday when the place had started peeling that she gave me two tablets of Panadol and the landlady rubbed some jell on the wound. My mistress did not give me food but asked me to eat eba that had gone bad with maggots in it but I refused to eat and stayed hungry that day”.
She said nothing was done about the wound and she continued doing her chores until Thursday March 14.“When I went to fetch water from the borehole that some neighbours saw me and screamed and one of them took me to the General Hospital”.
At the General Hospital, a nurse, who identified herself as Alice, and a social worker called Barrister James Ibor, a child rights activist, intervened .”We have written to the Cross River State Commissioner of Police to arrest the mistress and the brother to face the law because what they have done amounts to felony”, Ibor said.
He said what they did by taking the girl from her mother in Obudu to Calabar to serve as house maid is human trafficking.
Precious, the activist said, was living in an orphanage pending when she could be taken back to her parents after her wound had healed.