Apparently, thousands of Nigerian women have been forced to become prostitutes in Italy after they fled their country. The migrant women are enforced to have paid sex to pay off the debt they accumulated with the traffickers when they brought them into Italy. Some girls have debts of up to €20,000 that they have to “work off”.
“Precious”, one of the Nigerian victims
Precious is one of the Nigerian girls who was forced into prostitution upon her arrival to Italy. In an anonymous interview she stated that she fled Nigeria through North Africa and across the Mediterranean. Traffickers found her and other migrants off the coast of Libya when she was only 17 years old. Precious was then brought into Italy and put on a train to Turin, where she had to work as a prostitute.
When Precious arrived in Turin, the “Madam” (an older Nigerian woman) gave her nylon tights, a G-string and some condoms and told her to start working. Madam also informed Precious that she has no choice but to become a prostitute and that if the police found her, she would be deported back to Nigeria. According to our sources, Precious was homeless and sleeping on a mattress in a shrubbery. If her client didn’t want to have sex in the car, she would have to take him to her bed.
Precious was picked up by the police seven months after she started working as a prostitute. In the interview that was conducted with her, she said that she had up to ten sexual encounters every day. She was afraid of being deported back to Nigeria, but she couldn’t continue being a prostitute.
Today, Precious lives near Rome in a safe house for Nigerian women who have been forced into prostitution. She does a paid internship in geriatric care and she is safe from her traffickers.
Other Nigerian girls are not as fortunate as Precious
It is estimated that there are around 10,000 – 30,000 Nigerian women in Italy who are brought into the country and forced to become prostitutes. According to the 2017 Human Trafficking Report of the International Organization for Migration some of the girls that are forced into prostitution are as young as 13 years old.
Apparently, when the girls arrive in Italy, they are forced by the traffickers with threats, mistreatment and violence. The girls are told that if they turn to the police, they are immediately getting deported back to Nigeria. The girls often undergo “juju” ceremonies too, where they are told that if they don’t repay their debt, they will be put under a spell or curse.
Another girl who was interviewed on the streets near Rome said that she earns €10 per sex job, and that she usually gets €30 daily because she only gets a couple of customers every day. The girl also stated that she wants to escape prostitution, but she doesn’t know how.
The Italian government’s response to the situation
Currently, the Italian government is not able to get the problem under control, but they have drastically increased the resources that go towards getting the migrant women off the streets. In 2015, the budget was €8 million, but it was increased to €22.5 million last year. Most of this money is spent on finding shelter (aka safe houses) for the women.
Apparently, the women are not safe in regular migrant asylums, because of the constant presence of thugs and pimps who try to readjust the girls. Some women have shelter in the migrant camp, but they proceed to work as prostitutes to repay their debt.
Nigerian women in Austria
Nigerian women are allowed to work in Austria, but the only way they can work anything at all is if they apply for asylum. In Austria, all sexworkers have to go through a registration process before they are allowed to work and they also need health evaluation from a doctor. This law was recently introduced in Germany too; read more about it here. If you’re interested in knowing which nationality girls you can expect to encounter in Austria besides Nigerian girls, check out our article about the Sexworker Girl Nationalities in Vienna.