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.
The city of principal origin is Benin city, but lots of the exploited girls come from Warry and the Delta State, and other states of central Nigeria to supply the labor to the exploiters, other origins are Jos, Lagos and Uromi.
The alleged minors on the street met are few, about 50 out of almost 705 women contacted on the street.Sometimes the association reports cases to the competent authorities to intervene in an appropriate manner, but often the minors are rotated and the possibility to meet them is just one so the report is almost impossible. One aspect on which reflect is the presence of minors in the homes of the exploiters. According to some girls exploited they live together with their children and young boys who are growing up in a criminal environment probably reproducing what they have experienced since childhood as a normal thing.
As for the other nationalities that the association has met on the streets (not with the weekly frequency with which we meet the Africans) there is the Albanian and Moldovan boom, perhaps due to the abolition of the entry visa. Another significant fact is the presence of Chinese women over 50, completely illiterate and unable to communicate in Italian.
The association also receives requests for help from Italian and Romanian girls who risked being exploited during the search for normal jobs. A young Italian woman marked by a strong depression has asked us for help and support after prostituting herself a week out of desperation to pay her parents’ mortgage. She remained very psychologically and physically tested.
And who leaves the road
In 2017, around 30 girls asked for help to leave the road.
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.
All the other girls helped to leave the road did it with the documents already behind them, and only the work and interesting and really useful training courses can convince a victim of exploitation to put herself and her family members in danger to leave the traffickers(“Madame” or “bros”).We met some girls in a depressive state, in the grip of alcohol and perhaps drugs.
The crisis continues, even on the street
The girls in the street complain of a continuous decline in earnings, up to minus 50%, customers decrease so much that we met women who for many evenings could not find even one.
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.
The drop in revenues considerably lengthens the number of years of exploitation by an average of 3 years, it is quite easy to reach 5-6 years of exploitation with peaks of 7-8 years in worse cases. In fact, Nigerian girls are asked to pay between 20 and 40,000 euros to be able to free themselves and return free. However, there are cases in which the request reaches up to 65,000 euros. This extension affects the psychophysical health of the victims who over time pay the consequences, due to the cold and the bad conditions of life they face. Among the girls who have just left the street, after having paid the exploiter or after having denounced and started a journey in the host community, there is a sort of redemption desire with pregnancies also sought in precarious economic conditions and sometimes even without a stable relationship. Many cultural mediators and experts in the field agree that it is not about unwanted pregnancies, but desired outside of a family context only to be able to compensate for the great suffering experienced during the years of exploitation. Obviously the consequence is the perpetuation of a condition of poverty and economic and social difficulties.
Shouts by the road
In recent years, the association has undertaken some contact initiatives also with Eastern, Asian and Maghreb women who go into the streets to prostitute themselves. Some Eastern girls report that now also in Romanian prostitution there are female exploiters who buy other girls who “sort” in various European countries. Among the requests encountered, which for us are like “cries for help”, there is an immense need for training and reintegration paths that many women want to be able to reinvent themselves and get out of the way. Furthermore, among women, there is a clear perception that the Italian state does little against the exploiters. Unfortunately, it is a perception that reflects reality: in the face of hundreds of women who have reported over the years, there are very few arrests, low sentences, few really effective investigations and low impact of the judiciary and police forces. on the trafficking system. In the street more and more often there are young black men who walk by checking the girls, who according to them are guests of centers for asylum seekers, enlisted to check and sometimes to pass drugs. Other “cries” that we have heard again this year, speaking with some women, concern the new frontiers of trafficking such as: – multimedia prostitution: pornography for which women are “bought” (sometimes even unconsciously) to make videos to be resold via the internet. – Reproductive prostitution: the buying and selling of women from the East to be used for surrogacy (womb for rent) with heterologous fertilization, directed in other European countries (Greece, Ukraine, Spain) – marriage prostitution: the buying and selling of Asian or Arab women for combined marriages and sexual jihad (the latter falling in 2017 compared to some 2016 reports) These are new scenarios that should be explored, especially by institutions at a political and judicial level. SUMMING UP: almost 80% of the women who prostitute themselves are the exploited girls exploitation is everywhere present the average age is down to around 24.5 years many of the untapped women are on the streets out of sheer despair the decline in the claims of the exploiters continues the minors on the street decrease few and with less money customers with a lengthening of years of exploitation.
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