That’s the number confirmed by Save the Children Italy. In 2020, the organization counted at least 2040 victims of human trafficking. The majority are children and women. Indeed, the most vulnerable are the ideal the targets (over 81% of the total). The report calls them “small, invisible slaves.” And, to many, they are invisible. Even to the law and authorities.
Save the Children Italy report
So, this 2020 report doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Plus, it confirms that the pandemic didn’t stop human trafficking. On the contrary, criminals adapted to the Covid-19 world. The organization also confirms that the reasons for traffickers are two: sex and labour. The former accounts for 78% of the total, while the latter for 14%. What’s the missing percentage? Beggars.
Traffickers prefer minors
One out of 20 women is a minor, often under 20. Often, criminals target a mother with young children, used for sexual exploitation. These mother-kid couples have increased in number, almost doubling in four years and, in 2020, they amounted for 11% of human trafficking victims in Italy.
But not only sex. In fact, these young families are also used in agriculture, especially in the south of the country. The mothers are threatened and abused and so are their children. It’s a cycle of violence, difficult to break. The victims don’t see any future, so they don’t speak up. Even during the pandemic, human trafficking abused victims.
When the pandemic doesn’t hit
Save the Children Italy reports that the lockdowns didn’t stop the trafficking. Simply, Covid made the victims less visible and more difficult to trace. So, almost impossible to protect and save.
The criminals moved online and indoors. They trick the victims with fake job postings or with fake profiles. Then, the traffickers move and exploit the victims indoors, making them difficult to find. This is one case in which the pandemic effect didn’t exist. Hence, finding victims is more and more complicated.
How to recognize victims of human trafficking
Save the Children Italy published a guide on how to recognize victims of this crime in the country. Specifically, the organization focused on foreign and alone minors. First, it’s important to look at the nationality. While no country is immune to traffickers, in Italy the majority of victims come from Nigeria (over 72%), then Pakistan, Gambia, and Morocco. Also, the less time they’ve been in Italy, the more vulnerable they are.
Often, these children barely speak Italian, which keeps them isolated and makes it almost impossible to look for help. Plus, the minors don’t have a job, but they have money or they are anxious when questioned. They need the money, so they are exploited and prefer not reporting it to the authorities. Often, Save the Children Italy reports, children aren’t even aware of being used and trafficked. Victims of sexual abuse will also show physical signs and physiological symptoms. Furthermore, they will always be with an adult, moving from city to city without any warning.
So, victims of human trafficking show signs, but they tend to hide them. Only a careful eye can catch them. Perhaps even save them.
What is Italy doing to save them?
While the country lacks in its protection for victims of stalking, it’s doing better against human trafficking. In 2016, it launched a national plan of action against this crime, with the goal of improving prevention and protecting the victims. The plan had five priorities, including raising the sentences for the traffickers and education people. That is, education law enforcement too, to make sure officers can identify victims and suspicious situations. So, the commitment is there.
“Italian legislation focuses on victims and human rights,” said the representative of Italy at ONU Marie Sol Fulci, “it’s sensitive to gender and protection of the minors. The law focuses on prevention and legal protection for the victims, including in the process local communities.”
Hence, see something, say something. And pay attention. While in 2020 there have been 2040 victims of human trafficking in Italy, 2021 doesn’t have to be the same. It can be better.