How Nigerian human trafficking networks use motherhood to maintain and introduce their victims into sexual exploitation

Rafaela Hilário Pascoal


Nigerian human trafficking, in particularly for sexual purposes, in the South of Italy has grown from the beginning of the 90s, consequently to the migration flow hail from Nigeria to the tomatoes’ harvest (Cole, 2006).  The lack of implementation of an adequate policy to tackle the phenomenon in the territory, adding to the growth of migration flows from other countries has facilitated the roots of human trafficking. Due to the enhance of legal framework to tackle Human Trafficking, at national and international level, the criminal networks were obliged to adapt their strategies in order to introduce legally their victims in the European territory. Therefore, Nigerian criminal organizations started to use legally considered vulnerable categories, such as non-accompanied minors, as well as pregnant women and women with their children to avoid deportation into the origin countries. Since the majority of the victims is between 15 and 30 years old, the networks also have started to use motherhood in order to proceed with their exploitation on the European territory. Furthermore, considering that traffickers use the victims’ children as a coercive instrument to maintain them in sexual exploitation, the present study has the aim to: a) analyze the mothers’ and their children’s conditions; b) understand how Nigerian human trafficking networks use motherhood as a method to contour migration policies; d) verify the use of the children as a coercive instrument.

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