By Vatican News
One in four victims of trafficking in Europe is under 18, while two out of three are women or girls.
A just-released report by the charity Save the Children Italy also reveals that 56 % of identified trafficking cases registered in the European Union in 2019 were related to trafficking for sexual exploitation.
‘Little Invisible Slaves”
Entitled “Little Invisible Slaves 2019”, the report was released just days before the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July.
It notes that a high percentage of victims of trafficking are estimated to be living in Italy, with the number of underage victims increasing in one year from 9 to 13%.
The authors of the report claim that the extensive data analysed to draw up the document represents only the surface of a mostly hidden issue. But, they maintain, it confirms an increasingly younger age of the victims and the prevalence of sexual exploitation, with one in five victims aged 15 or younger, and sexual exploitation affecting almost nine out of ten trafficked children.
Focussing on the reality of the trade in Italy, Save the Children says most trafficked girls are from Nigeria, followed by Romania, Bulgaria and Albania - all of them countries in which conditions of poverty and inadequate access to schools make it easy for traffickers to lure the young girls to Italy with the false promise of a job.
The report features many direct testimonies that show how the sexual exploitation of such young and vulnerable victims leaves an indelible mark on their lives, with very serious consequences that impact a possible future of inclusion, dignity and autonomy.
The plight of Nigerian victims
A chapter is dedicated to the plight of the Nigerian girls and women who arrive in Italy after a journey through Libya and by sea, where they are subjected to abuse and violence and are then indebted to ruthless pimps who manage their exploitation, depriving them of their documents and freedom, and blackmailing their families.
Access to International Protection System
Save the Children calls for access for every single survivor of trafficking to the International Protection System to escape those who have done them such harm.
It also promotes activities and partnerships that aim to protect the underage victims and those who have just turned adults, and support them in undertaking a path of healing, inclusion and social integration.