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Over the years this has grown as they have found new ways of overcoming logistical and law enforcement obstacles. This number represents the largest jump in the yearly total of Nigerian women arriving in Italy in the last 10 years.

Italy serves as the primary gateway for Nigerian migrants entering Europe. In August 2016 the International Organization for Migration reported that 80% of the Nigerian women who arrive in Italy would ultimately be trafficked for sex.

Added to this complexity is the fact that extended family members often act as the link between human trafficking syndicates and their victims.

Nigerian sex traffickers have developed a highly organised and wide web of criminal contacts throughout Europe.

There is high awareness of sex trafficking in Nigeria thanks to the work of international organisations, local NGOs and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.

But women continue to leave in large numbers to seek a brighter future in Europe.This is exacerbated by pressures put on them by their own families.Family pressure is often the deciding factor in their leaving home.This has also compromised the effectiveness of prevention and rehabilitation projects in Nigeria, which seldom take into account the involvement of family members.As part of my doctoral research I recently conducted interviews in rural communities outside Benin City, the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria.Extended family members often mislead women into believing that their migration process will be different as their contact in Italy is a trusted one.Unlike the Western “extended family”, Nigerian families are tightly knit through ancestral ties.Being unable to find success abroad and to live up to her financial responsibility to her family would be perceived as a failure and the source of significant shame and dishonour on a personal, family and community level.Several major international police operations and intelligence gathering projects funded by the EU and various EU member states are in place to fight Nigerian transnational sex trafficking.The struggle to make ends meet often leads families to view sending young women off to Europe as an investment, leading to future income for the household.Thus family members are involved in the recruiting phase of trafficking.


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