In 2016, 11,000 Nigerian women and girls were trafficked to Italy, almost twice as many as in 2015 (The Guardian, January 12, 2017). Due to a demand for younger girls, children as young as thirteen are now making the dangerous journey to Europe. The United Nations (UN) estimated that 80% or more of these underage victims arriving in Europe were victims of sex trafficking (The Guardian, August 8, 2016). Traffickers take advantage of the refugee crises across Africa and the absence of a real government in Libya to send young Nigerian girls across the Mediterranean basin. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the vast majority of Nigerian migrants who arrived by boat to the Italian coast in 2016 came from Benin City in the State of Edo, a region that accounts for only 2% of the country’s population. It is thanks to the money earned by children who have left on the northern shores of the Mediterranean that the city can survive, as it has been severely affected by industrial decline for many years, and is today riddled by human trafficking networks (Fondation Scelles, October 2017).

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