Read The Story Of Nigerian Girl Force As PROSTITUTE In Italy(Photo)

Physinews: Spanish photographer Quintin Valero took
some striking visual record of the work being
done by an NGO to help victims of sex
trafficking in Asti, near Turin.


“What I found was a really strong community of
women who were helping each other overcome
their experiences, ” she says It’s just after 9pm
when the first Nigerian women start to appear
on the streets of Asti, a small city near Turin in
northern Italy. Some stand in groups of two or
three, flagging down passing cars or checking
their phones. Many are alone – solitary figures
backlit by the stream of headlights moving into
the city, the Guardian UK writes.

Princess Inyang Okokon, a former victim of sex
trafficking, slows down her car as she spots
two girls standing on a corner. Even with heavy
makeup they look no older than 15 or 16. “So
many new faces,” she says, shaking her head
as she pulls her car to the side of the road and
gets out to speak to them.
Princess, a 42-year-old mother of four from
Nigeria’s southern Akwa Ibom state,(pictured)
has spent the last 17 years working for
Progetto Integrazione Accoglienza Migranti
(PIAM), a migrant rights and anti-trafficking
organisation in the city. According to her, most
– if not all – of the Nigerian prostitutes working
on Asti’s streets tonight are victims of
trafficking.

“This is just one street in a small city. It is
happening all over Italy and Europe and the
numbers are growing and growing.”

Princess knows first-hand about the horrors
these women are living through. In 1999 she
was trafficked herself from her home in Nigeria
to the streets of Turin.

“When I talk to them I tell them that I know their
story because it is my story too,” she says.

For nearly three decades, a thriving sex-
trafficking industry has been operating between
Nigeria and Italy. Many experts believe the
trade in women started in the 1980s when
Nigerians travelling to Italy on work visas to
pick tomatoes realised that selling sex was far
easier and more profitable than harvesting
fruits or vegetables.

Since then an estimated 30,000 Nigerian
women have been trafficked from their home
country into prostitution, finding themselves on
street corners and brothels in Italy and other
European states.

More than 85% of these women have come
from Nigeria’s Edo state in the south of the
country, where traffickers have historically
exploited chronic poverty, discrimination, a
failing education system and lack of
opportunities for young women to sell false
promises of prosperity in Europe.

Princess was one of the first wave of women to
be brought from Nigeria. Then a single mother
of three young children, she was approached by
a woman she knew from her workplace, who
offered her a job in Italy.

“We saw people come back from Europe rich
and they would tell us that we could also have
this life. In Nigeria there was nothing. I wanted
more for my children. This woman said I could
pay back the cost of my travel when I started
earning. I believed her.”

She flew to London on a fake passport. When
she arrived she called a telephone number
she’d been given and a man came to pick her
up and drive her to Italy. She was taken to a
house in Turin full of other Nigerian women.

When she told them she was going to work in a
restaurant, the women laughed in her face.

“They said, ‘Here no Nigerian girl works in a
restaurant. Whether you are a princess or a
queen you are here in Europe and you must
work as a prostitute’. I was distraught, I
thought there must be a mistake.”

The next day Princess was told she had to pay
back a €45,000 debt before she could leave.
She was now under the control of a “madam”, a
Nigerian woman who worked for the trafficking
rings, controlling the women and their debt. She
was given high heels and makeup and driven to
a street corner with another Nigerian girl.

“I said ‘I will not do this,’” she recalls. “I
refused. I hid behind a big rubbish bin all night
and cried. I said, ‘God, is this the life you have
brought me to?’”

After that night the beatings began. Her madam
attacked her so violently with the heel of a shoe
that she was hospitalised.

“I did not know anyone, they wouldn’t let me
call home. They said they would kill me if I
didn’t work,” she says. “I realised the only way
was to start this work and try and find
someone who would help me.”

Every day and night for more than eight
months, Princess worked on the streets in
Turin.

“Italian men, they love Nigerian girls,” she says
with a short laugh. “I had a queue every night.”
But no matter how hard she worked, her debts
never got smaller.

“The work was so bad, it was so dangerous.

The men were so violent. I was stabbed twice, I
was threatened with a gun,” she says. “I was
ashamed all the time. The only way I kept
strong was promising myself I would leave this
life.”