Saturday, September 21, 2013

Human Trafficking: Italy must do more to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation

A human trafficking awareness billboard. Photo: IRIN/Mohamed Amin Jibril

UN - 20 September 2013 – Warning that human trafficking in Italy, particularly for the sexual exploitation of women and girls, is growing, a United Nations human rights expert today called on the Government to boost its efforts to combat the scourge.

“Italy needs to rekindle its fight to end human trafficking, especially the unabated exploitation of the prostitution of foreign women and girls,” the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo said in Rome at the end of a nine-day official visit.

“The anti-trafficking measures initiated by the Government require continuing monitoring and evaluation if significant progress is to be made and the vicious cycle broken.”

Ms. Ezeilo noted that sexual exploitation, especially involving women from Nigeria and Eastern Europe, is the most prevalent and documented form of trafficking in Italy, and the Arab uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria, have further exacerbated the problem of migrant inflow, smuggling and trafficking in persons for labour and sexual exploitation.

“The phenomenon of trafficking in persons in Italy is unfortunately growing in scale and traffickers are getting more daring in exploitation and abuse of their victims,” she said,

She recounted the stories of two victims she spoke to. One was a 21 year old Nigerian girl who travelled by plane from Nigeria transiting through Turkey, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia. Not only was she trafficked but was held in debt bondage as her father back in Edo state had put up his land as collateral for the payment of the 60,000 euros illegal contract to bring her to Europe.

The young woman was moved from Turin to Milan and Paris to sell her body to repay her debt. She was rescued following a random identification check in Italy where she now benefits from assistance. The traffickers have continued to threaten her family in Nigeria since her disappearance from their radar.

In the second case Ms. Ezeilo recalled the traumatized face of an Asian woman victim of trafficking for labour exploitation who was forced to work in a sweatshop sewing all day. She was a victim of violence by her so-called boyfriend who exploited her. She lost her sight and suffered severe injuries on her hand for which she underwent surgery and is now recuperating in a shelter.

“Her determination to survive despite her traumatizing experience reminds us of a collective responsibility to bring succour to trafficked persons,” she said.

Special rapporteurs are independent experts who report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, which appoints them.