Thousands of Nigerian girls taken to Italy are in great danger of being forced into prostitution in Europe, the International Organisation for Migration, said on Friday.
The number of female Nigerians, many of them minors, arriving by sea in Italy surged over the past three years — from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,000 in 2016; some 4,000 have arrived so far in 2017, IOM said.
Based on data collected at landing sites, IOM estimated that 80 per cent of the girls were potential victims of trafficking as sex workers, noting that the girls are often told the trip is free, Reuters reported.
“These girls, who are increasingly younger every year, are brought to Italy and to Europe for sexual exploitation,” IOM spokesperson, Flavio Di Giacomo, told a Geneva briefing by telephone from Rome.
“They are taken by traffickers and then they are forced to be prostitutes in the streets in Italy. And sometimes, as far as we know, these girls are also sent to other European countries such as Spain, Germany, France, Austria.”
Stating that many of the girls were from poor families in Edo State, Di Giacomo said, “The increasing number of minors arriving really do not have any idea even what prostitution is.
“IOM officials try to intercept the Nigerian girls at landing points and inform them about the prostitution ring and their right to protection.”