Region Helping Woman Who Says She Was Trafficked From Africa
The Hudson Valley is helping a woman who says she was raped, abused and brought against her will from Africa to the area.
On Thursday, the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement held a virtual press conference in regards to Alima Bonsa. According to the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, Bonsa was trafficked from Burkina Faso to Columbia County.
Bonsa says a Columbia County man traveled to West Africa in 2001 when she was 18 and paid someone to marry her, against her will.
“I was bought like an animal at the market,” she said during the virtual press conference. "I was scared, terrified and had never seen a white person in my life.
Bonsa said she was bought like a business transition. She didn't want to marry the man, but she had no control. She said she was a virgin, but the first night the man raped her.
“I call it trafficking because I was bought like an animal, and been abused and (he) bought my family," she said. "He just buy people like an animal. That’s why I call it a trafficker because he is.”
Months after the forced marriage, she was brought to the United States and eventually ended up in Greene County. Bonsa says she, her mother and sister were all brought to Greene County and forced to work on a farm.
She had three children with the man. She says the man later forced her brother and niece to move to the area.
"My children are deeply affected," Bonsa said. "They've been manipulated, he's been telling them stories, and like he pulled my family apart, that's the same thing he's doing to my children."
The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement and Bonsa are calling for an investigation into the alleged trafficker.
The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement shared a GoFundMe for Bonsa's food business. For the past three years, Alima's Cuisines has been serving West African food out of tents at farmers' markets and pop-up restaurants. The GoFundMe is to help Bonsa get a food truck. As of this writing, nearly $22,000 has been raised. CLICK HERE to donate.
The full press conference can be seen below: