The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Taken to Italy with promises of work and kept as slave labour with threats of deportation, Nigerian women and girls are being exploited by organized crime in increasing numbers. In Palermo, Eric Reguly meets the women ensnared by trafficking, and the priest and nun trying to help them escape it. This year-old woman from Benin City, Nigeria, was forced into the sex trade in Italy.
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She has been through a living nightmare, like so many of the , women who now work as prostitutes in Italy. More than a third of these women come from Nigeria, by far the largest number from any country outside Italy, according to the U. Office on Drugs and Crime. A third of them arrived as minors, according a study by the Community of Pope John XXIII , one of several church organizations helping people on the ragged edge of society.
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ROME -- Precious survived a trip across North Africa and two sinking boats before making it to Italy, only to be confronted with the reality facing young Nigerian migrants like her: A "madam" gave her condoms, pantyhose and a G-string, and put her to work. It was in the bush," Precious told The Associated Press recently, her face hidden to hide her identity. Nigerian teenagers and young women selling sex is a common sight for motorists in Italy. Working along roadsides and secondary highways in cities big and small, they are a haunting reminder that while Italy has been successful in curbing immigration from Libya, it has largely failed to help a fraction of the migrants trafficked as sex slaves. Between 10, and 30, Nigerian prostitutes are estimated to be walking Italian streets, often to pay off the debts they incurred to get there. Government figures show 1, trafficked people were rescued and given special protection in , about of them Nigerian women and girls. More than were minors, like Precious. She was 17 years old when she was found off Libya's coast with a boatload of other migrants and brought to Italy.
If you have story pitches, feedback or would like to get in touch, please email dateline sbs. In Italy, a seedy criminal enterprise is hiding in plain sight - with African women as young as 14 trafficked into the country and forced to sell themselves on the street. I like to consider myself an honorary Italian, even though officially, I have no Italian heritage. And if not biologically, spiritually, Italy won my heart as a teenager. I was 16 when I was fortunate to travel to Mantova on a school exchange. And the cuisine welcomed me like I was a local, generously adding 10 kilos to my waistline in a matter of weeks. The pasta and so much more has lured me back to Italy more than a dozen times since. When I used to travel to Italy, I saw a country with a deep history, economic woes and an obsession with food and fashion.