The street unit of the association “Amici di Lazzaro”
Since 1999 the association helps and listens to women victims of trafficking and exploitation, meeting them on the street with a mobile unit made up of 5-8 volunteers. It offers information on escape routes, creating support and listening relationships, which over the years have led over 450 women to seek help and leave the road. It also offers help in learning Italian and in finding training courses at work. It proposes spiritual formation with moments of catechesis and the collaboration with some parishes and religious. Many are the former victims who even after many years turn to the association and ask for help and financial support for the loss of work.
Period and place of data collection
Between January and December 2017, street activities were carried out in the following cities: Turin, Moncalieri, Trofarello, Candiolo, Orbassano, Carmagnola, Piobesi, Settimo T.se, Grugliasco, Collegno, Pianezza, San Mauro, Venaria, Chivasso. The population also visually affected by the phenomenon in these cities and their surroundings is about 2.1 million people.
The association goes on the street two nights a week and makes extraordinary trips to Saturday, during the summer and during the holidays to bring women in areas less visible.
Who is on the street
Approximately 705 girls and Nigerian women were met, of whom 616 are exploited and under the blackmail of “Maman” (women exploiters) or “Bros” (men exploiters).
The exploited girls have often been deceived or pushed by family members to come to Italy.
We have again detected sisters or aunts among the exploiters.
The percentage of exploited girls is stable at 87% (as in 2016). After a few years of growth, the number of exploited girls decreased slightly, after the boom of 2016 and although there were numerous arrivals in the first 6 months of 2017.
As for the other nationalities present in the area, we met 275 women, of whom about 130 were exploited and about 50 were in serious social distress.
The Albanians are growing (around 70), the Romanian are decreasing (60), the Maghrebians are stable (30), the Chinese are growing (20), the South Americans (10) and the Italians (15, almost all with dependency problems) are growing , others from the East (50), another twenty (20) were women whose nationality we could not understand.
The number of desperate Nigerian women who return to the streets after years of normal life is still stable (about 9-10%) or they end up there for the first time. Often they are women who do not have the job skills appropriate to the Italian labor world, they are poorly educated, if not illiterate.
Some also come from other countries (including Germany, Spain, Greece, England, where they resided and had jobs that they lost).
In the street they are the most assiduous because they have fewer customers who prefer younger people. Finding alternatives for them becomes increasingly difficult but for the association it is an important goal for the future. Women are destroyed and disappointed by life, the meetings with them are really painful. More and more often the volunteers are asked to give them something to eat. Precisely for them the association has provided an ad hoc listening center that helps them materially.
In the street we also met girls who have found part-time or intermittent jobs and continue to pay the exploiters and go on the street 1-2 times a week. Thanks to the work done over the years, most of the girls on the street understood that the Italian language is important for their future and many attend Italian courses for adults in state CPIA.
It remains essential to help former victims to understand the importance of training themselves at work with many courses and learn different jobs, to have more possibilities of job integration.
A new phenomenon is the common feeling of girls in affirming that they want to pay the exploiters and want to return to Nigeria or move to central-northern Europe.
Italy is considered too taxed, too expensive and with little work. In fact, many exploiters move many girls to other European countries, using Italy as a passage to other more affluent nations. Concretely there are already a few dozen girls who returned to Nigeria voluntarily for the most part independently.
Most of the girls we meet are from 19 to 23 years old. The overall average age of the girls is between 24.5 years with a sharp decline compared to the previous survey, due to the arrival of very young girls. However, many adult women remain, even over the age of 50, a sign that leaving the road is very difficult and that even the new arrivals come from needy families.
While at least 20 have asked for other kinds of help as financial support, help to go to school, support for motherhood.Only three girls have used the art.18 (report of the exploiters and consequent obtaining of the residence permit when the police have verified that the complaint is truthful).
The others have used the ordinary ways for the regularization of immigrants. In all cases the association provides, without public contributions, to the escape and reception on their own, thanks to a vast network of collaborations. For women in economic difficulty it provides material and moral support.
The drop is so evident that in some areas the girls have stopped going on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, to save on the joint (the rent of the pavement that is paid to the organizations that control the territories) also, often, in the industrial zones the girls go away at 2 am to avoid being alone, and anticipate their arrival in the late afternoon.
In the districts of north Turin until August 2017 there was a sort of shift of girls who managed the same territory by dividing the days.