January 2020 (IOM)* — The latest arrival in a small brothel in the gold-mining hub of Yanfolila, southern Mali, Mariam* still recalls the first time she had sex for money. She took a man into her small, concrete room, and did what she had to do. She then cried and went to sleep, too sore to see other customers.

IOM/Anna Pujol-Mazzini, Mali Mariam

“I was scared. Usually, you should be doing this with a man you love, but because of money, I’ve lost my virginity now. I was so scared,” she says.