From Nigeria to Italy: Women trafficked into sex work tell their stories “I had no choice, I had to pay him… I was like a prisoner”

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A Nigerian lady , Victoria, who was told she was going to Italy to study and work afterwards tells her story of how was forced into prostitution and how she sufferered in the hands of her traffickers

”They promised me an education. They promised me if I came with them I could go to school and get a good job” 18-year-old Victoria tells ITV her story from a small cafe house in Turin, a shelter for rescued Nigerian prostitutes.

The promise was the slick patter of a modern slave master, who saw Victoria in her native Lagos back in Nigeria, and realised she was rich pickings. Her trafficker, whom she trusted, said he could get her to Italy.

With little to live for in Nigeria, Victoria found the money to pay and with her head full of teenage dreams of a better life, she went for it. She is one of thousands of Nigerian women who take the gamble every year – the numbers have shot up in the past two years as the traffickers hide their victims in the endless flow of migrants heading to Europe.
Victoria’s 2,500 mile journey became an epic of exploitation and abuse. By the time they’d got her to Libya, Victoria had been beaten and forced into prostitution: making money for her trafficker to pay off her now endless debt to him. Her eyes widen as she tells ITV presenter she had no choice. Her dismay is heartbreaking.
“I had no choice, I had no choice! I had to pay him… I was like a prisoner”, she said.
But thankfully the shelter we’re chatting in is a place of safety. Just a few weeks ago she arrived in Italy by boat via the now well worn route of thousands of Nigerian women. Before the traffickers awaiting her in Italy could pluck her from the crowd, she was spotted by a charity run by Princess Inyang Okokon, who was herself trafficked from Italy to Nigeria, via London, nearly 20 years ago.
Her husband Alberto is happy to admit he was once one of her paying clients.
But when he met Princess, his eyes were opened to the phenomenon of modern slavery: she was trapped in a life of prostitution in Italy, her documents kept by her female trafficker – and with massive debts to pay. He helped her get out. For Princess, Victoria’s story is her story.

She and Alberto now run shelters for women just like her, but are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer numbers they are dealing with. The couple took the reporters onto the streets of Turin late at night: in one suburb there is a sex worker on almost every corner – nearly all of them we are told, will have been trafficked from Nigeria.

Wearing barely any clothes, they stoke fires they’ve made in small oil drums to keep warm whilst they wait for the next car to pull up (see video in the link) Rescuing them is dangerous work: the traffickers watch their every move.
ITV spoke to many of the women Princess and Alberto care for. All of them had tales of rape, beatings, enforced servitude. Two of them had babies with them – thrown onto the boats from Libya to Italy because their trade value went down when they got pregnant in Libya. Every single one of them had been bought, sold, used, and resold. They were treated as goods in transit.
Source: Itv News

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