Trafficking love, Becoming Abigail
in Chris Abani
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Becoming Abigail (2006) is the story of the dehumanisation of an Igbo girl who is allowed no control over her life or body, is repeatedly sexually abused, sold into slavery and almost forced into prostitution. Conceived as a ‘novella’, this short lyrical text stems from Abani’s hearing about the true story of a Nigerian girl who was a victim of the global sex trade in London in the 1990s. The book removes any sentimentality and polemic, and keeps away from the numbers and statistics of sex trafficking. The text, structured in lyrical fragments, narrates Abigail’s predicament as a case of gender discrimination and violence in the family and a form of ‘new slavery’ in contemporary globalisation, alternating moments from her past life in Nigeria and her London present. The analysis focuses on the invisibility of the girl; her attempts to move out of ghostliness, her desire to become her own self and be loved; the impossibility of escaping the joint control of patriarchy and the global market, as well as of international protection protocols for trafficked people. Abigail’s forced migration from Africa to Europe opens up a world of illegality, impossible rights, and forbidden love.


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