Geneva, July 21 (IANS) Potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea have soared over the past three years, the UN migration agency IOM reported on Friday, with an almost 600 percent increase in that period.
“This upward trend has continued during the first six months of 2017, with most victims arriving from Nigeria,” IOM senior press officer Joel Millman told journalists at a UN media briefing in Geneva, reports Xinhua news agency.
The UN agency said the new report was published by IOM.
Among other findings, the report states that sexual exploitation increasingly involves younger girls — often minors — who are already subject to violence and abuse on their way to Europe.
IOM estimates that 80 percent of girls arriving from Nigeria — whose numbers have soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 — were potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
In certain cases, young women were duped from home into thinking they will land jobs such as hairdressers in Europe, Flavio Di Giacomo of IOM public relations in Italy said by telephone from Rome.
They were escorted to Europe often by “madams” only to find they have to repay their trafficking debt by becoming prostitutes, and on their way sometimes they were raped in Libya, he said, noting they are “trafficked not smuggled”.
“Some of them are so young, they sometimes don’t even know what sex or prostitution is,” said Di Giacomo.