Contemporary slavery: the lost daughters of Nigeria - PhMuseum

Contemporary slavery: the lost daughters of Nigeria

Alessio Paduano

2018 - Ongoing

Italy

Every year many Nigerian women arrive to Italy with the promise of a legal job, but in reality they are reduced to slavery and forced into prostitution. Over the past three years, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of potential victims of trafficking in Italy for sexual exploitation has increased by 600 percent. The phenomenon involves more and more young girls - often minors - who become the object of violence and abuse already during the trip. Once arrived to destination, dozens of unscrupulous customers are ready to satisfy their sexual desires by paying a few euros, although most likely they are aware of the fact that girls are exploited by someone, usually the so-called "madame", former prostitutes who manage the Nigerians girls as soon as they arrive to Italy.

Most of the girls who leave Nigeria, at the end of their journey, arrive to Castelvolturno, a town in Southern Italy where more than half of the population is made up of irregular immigrants.

On March 9, 2018, during a ceremony held in the royal palace of Benin City, the “oba” Ewuare II, the Benin monarch (current state of Edo, Nigeria) and the highest local religious authority celebrated a rite against anyone who promoted illegal immigration in his territories. In this way, Ewuare II eliminated the voodoo rituals that linked to sexual slavery women who were victims of human trafficking in other countries. "From this moment - the oba Ewuare II declared - all those who have lived in fear and in the obligation of having to repay a huge debt to respect the oath, can feel free from this fear because any form of oath is canceled ".

Despite this historic event, the human trafficking and the exploitation of prostitution were not interrupted.

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  • S. 22 years old from Nigeria is portrayed in a street where she usually waits for clients near Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on May 28, 2019. S. arrived in Italy about two years ago. Once in Europe, young Nigerian women are immediately put on sidewalks to repay a debt that can reach up to 50,000 euros. Reduced into slavery, girls have to work sometimes up to twenty hours per day on motorway junctions and in any weather conditions.

  • A Nigerian prostitute waits for clients on a street near Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on June 12, 2019. Once in Europe, young Nigerian women are immediately put on sidewalks to repay a debt that can reach up to 50,000 euros. Reduced into slavery, girls have to work sometimes up to twenty hours per day on motorway junctions and in any weather conditions.

  • A. e G. during a relaxation moment inside the "connection house" where they live in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on April 26, 2018. "Connection houses" are private apartments - usually managed by "madame" - that function as restaurants, places to gather and also brothels. African men come here to have a drink, smoke and, if they wish, have sex with prostitutes.

  • A., 19 years old from Nigeria, rests in the room where she usually welcomes her clients in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy on April 17, 2018.

  • A. 21 years old from Lagos, Nigeria and her friend G. from Nigeria are seen inside “Lady Esther” hairdressing salon in Castelvolturno, Italy on April 17, 2018. A. e G. live in one of the many “connection houses” of the area. "Connection houses" are private apartments - usually managed by "madame" - that function as restaurants, places to gather and also brothels. African men come here to have a drink, smoke and, if they wish, have sex with prostitutes.

  • Q., 21 years old from Nigeria, consumes marijuana at her friend's house in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy on April 16, 2018.

  • M., 32 years old from Nigeria, faints after the excessive use of alcohol and marijuana of the previous night inside the "connection house" where she lives and works in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on April 17, 2018. "Connection houses" are private apartments - usually managed by "madame" - that function as restaurants, places to gather and also brothels. African men come here to have a drink, smoke and, if they wish, have sex with prostitutes.

  • The slogan "prostitutes ruin you" is seen on a road sign in a street near Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on June 12, 20189. Once in Europe, young Nigerian women are immediately put on sidewalks to repay a debt that can reach up to 50,000 euros. Reduced into slavery, girls have to work sometimes up to twenty hours per day on motorway junctions and in any weather conditions.

  • A Nigerian woman holding a water pack on her head is seen in a street of Castelvolturno, Italy on April 17, 2018.

  • A pregnant girl is seen in her bedroom in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy on May 27, 2018.

  • The exterior of a "connection house" room in Castelvolturno, Italy, on April 19, 2018. "Connection houses" are private apartments - usually managed by "madame" - that function as restaurants, places to gather and also brothels. African men come here to have a drink, smoke and, if they wish, have sex with prostitutes.

  • Q., 21 years old from Nigeria, gets ready for the shower before starting her working day inside the house where she lives and where she receives her clients in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on May 19, 2018.

  • A Nigerian prostitute waits for clients on a street near Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on April 24, 2018. Once in Europe, young Nigerian women are immediately put on sidewalks to repay a debt that can reach up to 50,000 euros. Reduced into slavery, girls have to work sometimes up to twenty hours per day on motorway junctions and in any weather conditions.

  • A Nigerian girl is seen inside the “Emergency” surgery in Castelvolturno, Italy on June 20, 2018. The “Emergency” surgery, among the many activities provides support to sex workers facilitating their access to health services in the area and increasing knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases.

  • A doctor shows the echography results to a Nigerian girl inside the “Emergency” surgery in Castelvolturno, Italy on June 20, 2018. The “Emergency” surgery, among the many activities provides support to sex workers facilitating their access to health services in the area and increasing knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Q., 21 years old from Nigeria, is seen during a despair moment inside the house where she lives and where she receives her clients in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on May 19, 2018.

  • A wig is seen inside the room where Q., 21 years old from Nigeria, receives her clients in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on May 19, 2018. Usually sex workers wear wig during their work shifts to feel more beautiful and to attract more customers.

  • A moment of a religious ceremony inside a Pentecostal church in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on May 27, 2018. It is not uncommon for some pastors to mentally influence the prostitutes who frequent the Pentecostal churches, thus fueling the prostitution market.

  • A moment of a religious ceremony inside a Pentecostal church in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy, on May 27, 2018. It is not uncommon for some pastors to mentally influence the prostitutes who frequent the Pentecostal churches, thus fueling the prostitution market.

  • A chair and an umbrella are seen in a street where Nigerian girls wait for customers in Castelvolturno, Southern Italy on May 29, 2019. The working conditions are very hard and the girls are placed on the edge of small roads and are exposed to enormous risks, such as assaults and thefts.


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