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Each year, teenagers flee the villages of northern Togo for Benin and Nigeria to farm (boys) and work as domestics (girls). NGOs consider these cross-border migrations “child trafficking” because youth are often seduced into going by the promises of devious middlemen and because their labor is hyper-exploited. But student research discovered that youth in these villages largely go of their own volition and see their sojourn in these neighboring countries as enhancing. Youth claim that they work hard at home but have little to show at the end of the year other than crops in their fields, whereas in Benin and Nigeria they return with money or a motorcycle. They also like the adventure and the freedom from familial obligation that comes with living far from home.

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