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Joy, a young Nigerian woman, was stand in the street outside the sprawling, overcrowded Cara di Mineo reception centre for asylum seekers in primary Sicily, waiting for someone to pick her up when I fulfilled her. It was late summer 2016, and the condition was still sizzling. She said she was 18, but examined even younger. She was wearing a faded denim coat over a crispy white T-shirt and tighten jeans, and six or seven strings of colorful balls were wrapped around her cervix. A gold chain hung from her left wrist, a knack from her mother.
As we spoke, a dark vehicle came into view and she took a couple of steps away from me to make sure whoever was driving considered her, and met that she was alone. There were a handful of other migrants sauntering along the road. The approaching car didn’t slow down, so Joy came back over to me and carried on our conversation.
The oldest of six children, Joy( not her real list) told me she had left their own families in a small village in Edo state in Nigeria at the age of 15, and gone to work for a affluent gal who owned a hairdressing salon in Benin City. She had since come to suspect that her parents had sold her to raise money for their younger children.” They likely had no choice ,” she said as she gaped down the road toward the dense citrus woodlands that disguise the coming traffic.
There were six other girls who worked for the woman, whom Joy said they called their maman , wanting “mother”. When Joy turned 16, she went through a ceremony that attached her to the mamanby a cus: if she disobeyed the maman, their own families would die. A few weeks later, she was told she was moving to Italy, where she would work for her maman’s sister. She concluded she would be working in a hair salon. She was given EUR4 5( PS40) and a phone number to call once she got to Italy– but no list , no address, and no documents.
Joy’s new life would turn out to be nothing like what she had expected. Instead of working for a hairdresser, she fell into the catch set by traffickers who pull women into bondage and vice. More than 80% of women brought to Europe from Nigeria are unknowingly “sponsored” by sex traffickers who have paid for their excursion, according to the International Organization for Migration( IOM ). The residue will have paid the smugglers to get them to Europe, but once they get there, will be unlikely to escape the sex-trafficking rings.
After an frightful wander, via Tripoli, which took practically 3 weeks, Joy arrived at the port of Augusta on Sicily’s east coast. She had no papers or passport. All she had was an Italian phone number, which her maman had seamed into the sleeve of her coat. When the migrants got off the craft, an armed military policeman in a bulletproof vest stood guard as another patted them down and took spears from some of the men. Those with records were taken to a large tent ordered with army cots. One wife handed out shoes and flip-flops, and the other imparted them bruised yellowed apples from a large metal bathtub. An detective exploited a black marker pen to write a number on the migrants’ left to right. Joy was crowd 323.