(Translated from Italian)
The trafficking of Nigerian women in Italy is a phenomenon that has only begun to receive attention since 2015, due to the recorded increase in sex slaves of Nigerian origin: from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016. The International Organization of Migration estimates that in Italy 80% of women from Nigeria are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Most of these come from Benin City, in the state of Edo. Benin City, in southern Nigeria is the same city where the Black Ax originated, the Nigerian criminal organization that controls the trafficking of sex slaves as far as Italy.
The Black Ax recruits women through four different methodologies: in the first case the Black Ax gives a loan to the woman’s family, but when they are unable to repay the money, the woman is taken away. In the second case, the women are kidnapped or handed over directly by the family. In the third case, it is the women themselves who get in direct contact with the mafia. In the latter case, they are recruited from their social accounts.
Before leaving for Italy, the women are forced to undergo a traditional witchcraft called juju . This practice creates an inseparable bond with the Black Ax; The juju is the way to create a debt of up to 80,000 Euros which obliges women to become sex slaves until the heat- with the Mafia. The juju also has a strong psychological power that ensures that this happens; if the covenant is not respected a spirit could rage inside their body until they die, and if they themselves die or run away, their families will be killed.
The journey from Nigeria to Italy is led by several collaborators of the Black Ax , the passeurs : traffickers of bodies. The first stop is in Agadez , Niger. On the way between Benin City and Agadez, women who are not left to die in the desert are used to bribe the police and ensure quick passage. Once in Agadez they are taken to the slave market, where there are 20,000 to 25,000 migrants every month, all from West Africa to Europe. The surviving women say that their ‘stamina’ was tested here; they were raped repeatedly. In the concentration camps in Libya, Black Ax members work for free for Libyans in exchange for more freedom in smuggling. Furthermore, their role is to make women, through sexual exploitation, earn money to cross the Mediterranean.
Those who manage to reach the Italian coasts become part of the inadequate system of CARA and CAS, which after the Security Decree can only welcome holders of international protection (therefore asylum and subsidiary) and unaccompanied minors, no longer asylum seekers waiting of the decision. Without an adequate protection system, women are very often not identified as victims of trafficking. Easily recruitable instead by the Madams , a name indicated to refer to women traffickers who deal directly with sex slaves, their contacts and the money earned. Another figure of the Black Ax is the Kapoit has the role of tending women away from possible anti-trafficking social organizations and moving women from one place to another so as to create instability and dependence, but also ensuring a continuous variety for the Italian clientele. If there weren’t such a high demand for sex, the sex slave business would not have profiled 2 billion euros a year: the estimated earnings of the Black Ax in Italy alone (globally the annual profit of sex slave traffickers is 99 billion dollars).
The legal framework on human trafficking is closely linked to sexual slavery as 90% of victims of trafficking globally are sexually exploited. Internationally the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking of Persons , also known as Palermo Protocol , established in 2000, presents the most accepted definition of human trafficking and also includes for the first time the role of international criminal organizations . Both are decisive factors in the proliferation and profitability of the trafficking industry and have an inevitable influence in the top-down approach to government policies at the national level.
Given the spread of the phenomenon and the number of actors involved, it is necessary to set up a control and prevention system to avoid the proliferation of trafficking with the aim of completely eradicating it. To achieve this, it is necessary to understand the oppressive structures at play and their role in trafficking, such as that of criminal organizations such as the Black Ax.