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Trafficking: Nigerian women and Europe’s sex trade


Trafficking for prostitution into Europe by Nigerians has reached a tipping point. In a newly-released report, the United Nations International Organisation for Migration warns that the trafficking of Nigerian women for prostitution is at a “crisis level.” The report, which covers the first six months of 2016, laments that gullible Nigerian girls – some with the help of their families – are being recruited at an increasing rate by criminal gangs for European sex markets. This is alarming; it is embarrassing for the nation.

The IOM investigation found that criminal gangs were exploiting the migration crisis in the Middle East to smuggle Nigerian girls into their sex slavery networks in Europe. It says that the pimps dangle tales of prosperity before the girls and their families, and convey them through migrant camps spread across West Africa. From there, they land in war-torn Libya, where they repeatedly suffer gross abuse. Eventually, they are taken to Europe. In reality, they are being sold for between £4,000 and £10,000, ending up there with debts of up to £40,000 that they have to repay by engaging in prostitution. This is a high-wire game of deception, which should be brought to an end.

Apart from being subjected to abuse, some die on the tortuous journey. Their major destinations are Britain, Spain and, especially, Italy. A flourishing sex trade has been in existence for decades between Nigeria and Italy, but now there is a sharp increase, with Delta and Edo states reportedly heavily involved. IOM officials say “Edo is the hub” of trafficking in Nigeria. It behoves the two state governments to act, and launch aggressive campaigns to dissuade prospective preys.

According to the IOM, 3,600 Nigerian women reached Italy between January and June, nearly four times the figure for 2014, and double the figure in the first half of 2015. At this rate, the final tally for 2016 might surpass the 5,633 recorded in 2015. “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,” says Simona Moscarelli, anti-trafficking expert at the IOM. “Our indicators are the majority of these women are being deliberately brought in for sexual exploitation purposes.”
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