Italy remains one of the best countries in the world and Nigerians seems to have fallen in love with it. It’s a country that has harbored numerous Nigerians who seek to enjoy a better livelihood and engage themselves in different job activities.
In the early 1980s, many Nigerians and Africans moved to Italy and France to earn a living through legitimate means. Some Africans were then subjected to farming on tomato farms, but when some farms reportedly stopped being operational, they quickly started looking for alternate means of survival in a foreign land.
It is believed that the southern regions of Italy where organized crime is the order of the day, and as the line between legitimate and illegitimate businesses are self-evident; the first Nigerian women began to independently work as prostitutes.
This form of trade in Italy has become rampant due to the level of poverty and inability to be gainfully employed as a Nigerian and as a immigrant.
In a recent report on Italy’s economy the Business Insider Albert Edwards a strategist with Societe General had this to say: “Italy has a litany of problems with its economy, including lagging productivity growth, sky-high labor costs, relatively low education spending, and a low proportion of skilled workers in the workforce. Coupled with the country’s banking crisis, and it is no wonder that fears about the collapse of Italy’s economy, and the potential that has to send the European dominos tumbling”. Prostitution then becomes the only means of income for many Nigerian women and something which allows some of the most connected individuals or groups of people in the society to take advantage of their situation.
In a recent publication, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that Nigerian asylum seekers account for more than half of Italy’s street prostitutes.
According to UNHCR officials, these refugees are mostly teenagers, and are recruited in their home country by human traffickers who promise them lucrative jobs in Italy. However, upon their arrival in Italy, they are forced to sell sex in order to pay for the traveling expenses the traffickers spent on them. Some of them are taken to the countryside, where the traffickers will arrange for clients to have sex with them in makeshift camps.
The girls are almost immediately granted refugee status by Italian authorities.
In the Venice area in northern Italy, prostitute camps are common. Claudio Donadel, the city’s council official, has worked to bring Nigerians off the streets for 20 years. He told the UNHCR, that the girls have to do the prostitution for some years in order to pay back the debt they owe the traffickers.
It’s sad that the Nigerian Federal Government has failed to see the need to improve the economic and financial level of the country in order to create a sustainable livelihood for Nigerians.
A few Nigerians are made to live a life of “slavery” in Italy as a result.
Unless, drastic steps are undertaken, Nigerians will continue to seek greener pastures outside the shores of this country.