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From Black Voices — A New Jersey man from the West African nation of Togo is behind bars after forcing at least 20 women to work without pay in hair braiding salons. According to the Associated Press, 47-year-old Lassissi Afolabi, a citizen of the Togolese Republic, was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison after he admitted to smuggling Togolese women and girls into the U.S. from 2002 through 2007 and making the young women, in effect, modern day slaves at hair salons throughout Newark and East Orange, NJ.

The Star Ledger reported that the women suffered beatings, psychological torture and sexual abuse. A federal judge in Newark described Afolabi’s crimes as “horrific” and ordered him to also repay his victims $3.9 million in restitution.

But Afolabi didn’t act alone; he had help. His ex wife, Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, and her son were also convicted in the scheme. The former wife will be sentenced in September for her wrongdoing; her son has been given 55 months prison time. The trio snuck the women into the U.S. using fake visas, authorities said.

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  • Lavish

    These women just wanted a better life and opportunities. i continue to pray that whatever goes on in the dark in any situation, comes to the light.

  • it’s sad when all you want is a better life and THIS is what you get.

  • Oh crap…I used to get my hair braided by a Togolese woman. They are the BEST when it comes to braiding hair. Doing hair is no easy work and to be forced to do it is usually what happens to these women. Some of my family just do hair all day long and we are Liberian. Sometimes it’s hard to see because I feel like we live in two different worlds where some of the family is in school and the rest are struggling like crazy. What can we do?

  • I just don’t know, pure wickedness and greed in the world today.

    Anyway, I am so glad they caught that man.

    In the meantime, with all the immigration laws and so called airport security in America, criminals are still able to sneak people into the country and abuse them and put them under modern day slavery. This is a prime example showing you that all the so called systems do not work.

    @Shermel

    With regards to family and what you guys can do, you can set up a family business and work together. Also diversify, the ladies braid the hair and so on, you could provide the hair braid extensions/hair for people instead of them bringing their own, and you could sell products such as shampoos, and maintenance products for the ladies to use.

    There is a woman who owns a salon in the UK, she knows nothing about hair, but she has lots of women working for her, they all rent a chair within the salon, they are pretty quick and people like the service there. Every time I have walked past, the place is packed. They also sell the hair for the extensions in a shop next door, which people buy.

    A simple case of putting your natural talents to good use.

  • sloane

    wow i currently braid my hair, but it is done by women from the ivory coast. i hope that they are in control of their incomes and are not being exploited. from what i’ve observed over the years i’ve been going to them, this is not the case, but you never know. this story is horrifying.