Niger has long been a hotbed of sexual exploitation.
But now, with the country’s new oil-backed government in power, it is also a hot bed of sex trafficking, according to local activists.
The country is home to one of the world’s highest rates of child sex tourism.
It is also home to the world´s highest number of women who have been trafficked into the industry, according the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This week, Al Jazeera interviewed the wife of a Nigerian sex trafficking survivor who works for a charity.
She told Al Jazeera: “My husband and I are trying to help a lot of women here in Niger.
We are just looking after the women who are still suffering from sexual exploitation.”
The new president, Mohamed Boubacar Keita, has made fighting sex trafficking a key pillar of his mandate.
On Thursday, he said he would appoint an independent anti-trafficking commission, including members of the countrys government, to tackle the issue.
But with the government in opposition and some politicians questioning the constitutionality of the bill, the government is trying to push the bill through parliament without amendments.
In Niger, sex trafficking is so widespread that it has its own acronym: сметерть.
The term is an acronym for a sex trafficking network that relies on human trafficking for profit.
Many of these victims are forced into the business for the money.
“The number of trafficking victims is much higher than the number of victims in the country,” says Erika Gomes, a researcher at the UN’s Women and Gender Equality Program (WGEP).
“The women who go to Niger are not in the position to escape.
The traffickers have them and they are often victims themselves.”
In Niger there are currently more than 3,000 registered cases of sexual abuse and exploitation.
More than 60,000 victims are living in poverty, according WGEP.
The Nigerian government is cracking down on traffickers and their clients, but it is not taking any proactive measures.
“We are not using the word ‘war on sex trafficking’ in our national policy.
We have to do more to stop sex trafficking.
The issue of human trafficking is not something that can be swept under the carpet.
It has to be tackled, as a matter of urgency,” says Gomes.
In Niger, prostitution is illegal, and the state of emergency enacted in December 2014 means it is even harder to police.
Many Nigerians have resorted to the illegal sex trade.
In March, the UN Human Rights Council recommended that Niger be placed on its second list of countries with the highest number, along with Mauritania and South Sudan.
Since then, Nigeria has introduced a raft of laws against human trafficking, including the criminalisation of human prostitution.
It banned the sale of human organs in May, the first country in the world to do so.
And on December 10, the country´s President Buhari signed a law that makes it a crime to be an accomplice to human trafficking.
However, the law does not outlaw all human trafficking; instead, it targets those involved in forced labour, forced prostitution and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls.
Despite the government´s efforts to curb human trafficking through legislation, women in Niger continue to be trafficked and forced into sexual exploitation, according Gomes and other activists.
She says: “Women are being forced to work as sex slaves for the men who take them into the trade.
Women are forced to marry people and then sell their daughters to the men in the trade to make money.”
The UN estimates there are between 7,000 and 15,000 women and children in Nigeria who are being trafficked.
“Women and girls who are exploited in the sex industry are being sold for as little as $5 a day.
The price of the product is just to make a living,” she says.
Al Jazeera travelled to Niger to interview a sex worker who works at the Sonali Hotel in Niger’s capital Niamey.
She works as a concierge at the hotel.
She gave us her first-hand account of the trafficking that takes place in the hotel and its sister hotels.
She said: “There are two floors at the Hotel Sonali.
One is for the women, who are usually paid a monthly salary of $100, and a room is usually reserved for them for a night.
On the second floor there is a small room reserved for men.
These rooms are often very small, and they have only one bed.
They ask me for money, and if they can´t pay, they just tell them to leave. “
When the men arrive at the room, they usually come straight to me.
They ask me for money, and if they can´t pay, they just tell them to leave.
Sometimes they will not leave their room for another day, because the men would just come back to the hotel room