The United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said that more that 80% of Nigerian women who came to Italy from Libya by boat in the first half of 2016 will be trafficked into prostitution.
According to The UK Guardian, Simona Moscarelli, an anti-trafficking expert at the IOM said:
What we have seen this year is a crisis, it is absolutely unprecedented and is the most significant increase in the number of Nigerian women arriving in Italy for 10 years.
Our indicators are the majority of these women are being deliberately brought in for sexual exploitation purposes. There has been a big enhancement of criminal gangs and trafficking networks engaging in the sexual exploitation of younger and younger Nigerian girls.
Already we have seen nearly 4,000 women come in the first six months of this year. We are expecting the numbers to have increased again by the end of this year.
There is little understanding of the dynamics and nature of this form of trafficking.
The reception centres are not good places for trafficked women. Just last week six girls went missing from a reception centre in Sicily, they were just picked up in a car and driven away.
Moscarelli said that most of the women who arrive Italy from Libya are already victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, and as such, special shelters should be provided for them where they can be given the advice and support needed, instead of putting them in reception centres
“Most Nigerian women who arrive in Italy are already victims of trafficking, many have been subjected to serious sexual exploitation on their journey. Many are forced into prostitution in Libya. The women we are seeing are increasingly young, many are unaccompanied minors when they arrive and the violence and exploitation they face when they are under the control of these gangs is getting worse. They are really treated like slaves,” Moscarelli said.
According to Salvatore Vella, the deputy chief prosecutor in Agrigento, Sicily, who led the first significant investigation of Nigerian trafficking rings in Italy in 2014, the reception centres are increasingly being used as pick-up points by those intending to exploit Nigerian women.
The women are given a phone number when they leave Nigeria, which they use to inform a contact in Italy that they have arrived.
“The mobsters just come to the camp and pick (women) up. As easy as going to a grocery store. That’s what these women are treated like, objects to trade, buy, exploit and resell and the reception centres are acting as a sort of warehouse where these girls are temporarily stocked. They wait until the woman has her residence permit or refugee status document and then they just go and pick her up,” he added.
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