Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nigerian Prostitutes in Italy - Migration and Prostitution

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Some of you may have seen these pictures before, I saw them yesterday and I was terribly disturbed. Now, don't get me wrong, I know Italy has it's fair share of prostitutes, a good number of them Nigerian, but in all the documentaries, news, and books, they worked in brothels or backway alleys at night. Seeing the conditions in which these women in the pictures worked was like a punch in my stomach.

A part of me insisted these had to be editorial images, photographed with models, meant to shock. But even if so, I also knew it could be feasible. Some Nigerian women could actually be living and working in environments like these, for money, for whatever. I wanted to blame the Nigerian goverment, I wanted to blame the Italian government, I wanted to blame the women themselves, after all, wouldn't it be better to live in a mud house in Nigeria than be a sex worker in a condom-strewn bush clearing?

But what if this was some person with a camera wanting to paint a single story? It was all doing my head in, so I had to find the origin of the pictures. And I did. The images are real, the women are real, they were shot by Paolo Patrizi, an Italian documentary photographer who now lives in Japan. I found this out on his website, and when I found his number on there, I decided to call him too. We spoke for a few minutes and he confirmed the pictures are geniune and of real working women.









28 comments:

  1. Ha....is this for real? i have never sen this , you could have knocked me over with a feather!

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    1. Seriously! The pictures had been going around now for a couple of years or so.

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  2. Shocking! I have no words. I'm angry, sad and heartbroken. Is Nigeria really a country? How do these girls survive during winter? Lots of questions are running through my mind as I write! What can be done to salvage what's left of Nigeria? How can this go on while the elites continue to steal and loot the commonwealth? Are Nigerian elites really human? Do they have blood flowing through their veins? This is just heart-rending!

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    1. Nigerian government shares a large portion of the blame, but IMO maybe not the elites.

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  3. Where do they stay during the harsh long winter and spring? I dont believe all of it but I do know that prostitution is the main occupation of female illegal immigrants in the west

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    1. The women may not live there all day or all year but you'll be surprised how terrible it gets for these women.

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  4. When I saw the pics online, I too thought they were fake. Good Journalism Myne. Thanks for looking for the true story

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  5. Very powerful piece Mynn and sad beyond words. My question is, if they were at home in Nigeria would they be undertaking prostitution as their profession?

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    1. There is prostitution everywhere, and maybe some would be, but certainly not all, and certainly not in these conditions. The sad thing is that most unskilled jobs in Nigeria would not pay what they earn in Italy doing this.

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  6. Oh my God! This is real Myne. Good job!
    Can I feature this story on my company's magazine? I'll surely write your name on the page as my source. If you agree, please reply.
    Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Adaeze. What is the name of the magazine, and where is it available? You may use the article but please ensure the photographer's name remains intact. And also put a link to my blog and his blog at the end too. Thanks.

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    2. Hello Myne. It's the Hints magazine... it used to be so popular in the early ninties and it still is. Though we have rebranded it into a lifestyle magazine. I would like to send you a copy if your'e interested.I will surely put the link to your blog but i don't have the link to his blog.
      Thanks for the permit.

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  7. Great detective work, Myne! My hub and I lived in Rome for six months in the late 80's. One day, we decided to go on an extended walk and found ourselves facing an open field we decided to cross. To our surprise, as we neared the other side, prostitutes started calling from decrepit houses. These women were aggressive and embarrassing (and we rushed to get out of that area) but didn't appear to be representative of any particular country. Okay, fast forward. Not long ago, a television documentary (on U.S. television) had in-depth reporting about brothels in Eastern Europe that made my blood run cold. Women are pretty much kidnapped and forced to live in unspeakable conditions--some in 'boxes'--and endure horrific beatings if they don't procure and/or satisfy customers.

    I don't think prostitution will ever disappear. Italy's geography has always lent itself to the prostitution trade. I doubt that it will ever disappear either.

    However, this doesn't excuse the horrific sex trade on-going now. Every year, thousands of young girls are either sold into this sex trade or are kidnapped, none of whom will ever be free again. Various world organizations work to stop what's happening, but with limited success. Thus, I applaud your blog post for speaking out. Only when all of us raise our voices will Mankind's underbelly be exposed.

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    1. Indeed I also doubt that prostitution will entirely disappear, but I wish it wasn't a trade that exploited vulnerable women and in circumstances like these. Thanks, Kittie for your perspective.

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  8. This is indeed horrific,never knew its this bad with these girls that go in search of greener pastures and to think that some parents encourage their girls to do this!God help us.I will differ a little in my opinion that all the blame should go to the government,GREED takes a larger part of the reason girls go all outin search of greener pastures.

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    1. "GREED takes a larger part of the reason girls go all out in search of greener pastures."

      Easy to say if your existence isn't constantly always on the margin of survival. These women/girls are all symptoms of the overarching problem of our government failing its people over and over and over and over.

      Always easy to blame victims.

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    2. Yes we can all blame the govt. cos its supposed to provide us with good conditions that give us hope. But i agree with you, greed and wrong upbringing are also to blame. In some parts of Nigeria, going abroad is a MUST and the parents and relatives will do anything to support the girls to go abroad. and yes they know the girls are going there for prostitution,but only care about the euros that will be sent home. I have come across many Nigerian prostitutes in Madrid Spain,and after speaking to a few of them, they confessed that they came to hustle and knew what they were getting into. They also had no wish to return home.

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  9. I feel so touched by the plight of this young women. I stumbled upon these pictures and further research led me to your blog. My heart feels broken. Everyday, in Benin city(my place) I hear young girls dreaming n wishing to go to Europe. I wish I could print these pictures on giant bill boards has caution to all.



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  10. I live in Italy and this is reality at its peak.We can't apportion blame to some of the ladies.We have heard so much stories whereby these ladies were brought under the pretense of coming over to work but on getting her they are being sworn to secrecy and all they are asked to do they must do.
    On the other h and, the italian authourity are no less different from Nigeria, I say this because I live here, there is no difference at all, they are not doing anything to curb this act since most of the big Italian names have one or two things to do with the "madams" of these girls.We pray Nigeria's once lost glory be revived because it's really sad for the girls, some even loose their livevs in the process.

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  11. I am simply speechless. When I saw this on linda Ikeji, i thought surely the pics were doctored. Thanks for getting pablo to do a write up.

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  12. This is so so sad! I just wonder how they survive during winter. Watched a documentary once on Al jezeera on illegal immigration and its not only women who find themselves homeless men too. Some get very sick during the winter and die. Sometimes they have no money for food and all. It is sad. Nigerian Government has a lot to do with it all. A government that just takes and never gives!!! what do you expect from its citizens.Absolute poverty of the mind, body and soul. These people do not know the first thing about living abroad, they are brain washed to think living abroad brings money, most times they are taken from their villages so you can just imagine the level of awareness. You leave Naija where they is support system (where family,friends, neighbors etc rally around to help one another)to a country where the word "be your brother's keeper" does not exist! how harsh.

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  13. This is so sad, I actually thought they were doctored too...but serious, who sleeps with a prostitute in this condition, in the bush...

    I saw poverty in Italy when I visited, those people would rather put their money to good use than spend it deporting illegal immigrants.

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  14. I am absolutely heart-broken by these images;words cannot describe how upset and enraged i feel right now at my country Nigeria and her government/leaders,at some of these girls for allowing themselves to be in such a crazy & bizzare situation!
    It's no surprise the Italian government will allow such a disgraceful sight which is now prevalent in its country;a country where men haven't got any shred of respect nor regard for women;other than their MAMA!where women are treated like nothing more than just piece of meat!
    How bad is it in Nigerian that people will be willing to sleep out in the snow and freezing rain for 10,15 and even 20 Euros?!Putting their lives at risk;at the mercy of murderers;rapists and the psychopaths that roam the streets on a daily basis?!#JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL#

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  15. Nigeria is a hell of a country waiting to implode. That's why its citizens rot away this way.

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  16. This is terrible. But i don't think the dignity of being a woman should be subjected to nonsensical madness due to quest for ephemerality and mundane material. I kudos your courage for the source of the picture.

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  17. I enjoy the way you report stories Myne. I really do. Well done!

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