Laura Marmorale, Roberto Beneduce, Tania Castellaccio, Simona Marino (left to right) | Photo: ANSA/FRANCESCO TEDESCO
Laura Marmorale, Roberto Beneduce, Tania Castellaccio, Simona Marino (left to right) | Photo: ANSA/FRANCESCO TEDESCO

A project in Naples financed by the Italian government's Department for Equal Opportunities is using ethnopsychology to assist migrant women who have suffered violence and trauma.

A project in Naples titled Masarat and conducted by the cooperative Dedalus is providing psychological support for migrant women from various countries of origin and cultural backgrounds.

"There are women from the east who are working as elderly caregivers, without being able to go out; there's the sexual exploitation of Nigerian women, including those who are hosted in the government's CAS reception centres," Tania Castellaccio, the director of the women's reception area of Dedalus, said. 

Women sleep in reception centres, but exploited by day 

The contract for the project, financed by the Italian government's Department for Equal Opportunity, was awarded to Dedalus and the Franz Fanon Association, both of which handle psychological services for struggling migrant women who have been victims of harassment, violence, discrimination and exploitation. 

The psychological therapies take place at Palazzetto Urban, made available by the City of Naples, every Friday. Women can book appointments through the email address centromasarat@coopdedalus.org

"Migrant women often aren't aware of the law enforcement services available and sometimes they suffer without being able to report," Castellaccio said. 

"Increasingly younger Nigerian women find themselves at the centre of sexual exploitation, even if they are included in the government's reception systems. Many of them tell stories of abuse they suffered in their country of origin; during their journey, in particular in Libya; and also during their stay in the CAS or CARA reception centres, in an almost collusion between the state reception system and a criminal system of sexual exploiation," she said. "The girls sleep in the reception centres, and in the morning they go to the 'connection houses' where they are sexually exploited. They make money for the criminals who brought them here, and then they go back to sleep at the CAS."

City of Naples supports Masarat project 

The Masarat project launched one week ago, and Simona Marino, Naples' advisor to the mayor for equal opportunities, said that nine women were already taking part. "They are mainly from Sub-Saharan countries, but we plan to open it to as many women as possible," she said. 

Laura Marmorale, Naples Councillor for Migration and Social Integration Policies for Migrants, said that migrant women need a dedicated and targeted approach. "With the collaboration of the Fanon Association we can break down the language barrier, and we use the same cultural measuring stick to allow women to open up and overcome the hardship they find themselves in," Marmorale said. 

She said that even though controversy is rampant over discrimination and violence against Italian women, migrant women are "one step behind Italian women, in terms of salary, contracts, job opportunities, exploitation." 

"They are victims of their condition as migrants and subject to very difficult paths to becoming legal, as well as breaking free from the care jobs they always seem destined for, in order to access the vast range of professions offered by the market," she said. 

Professional assistance based on ethnopsychology 

The project relies on the professional experience of the Turin-based Fanon Association, which was founded in 1996. 

"Our therapeutic project is based on ethnopsychology, which places the attention on the multiple cultural and religious affiliations of our patients. We adapt therapeutic tools without forgetting how certain events tear apart both mind and body, therefore with a great focus on trauma, culture, and childhood," Roberto Beneduce, an anthropologist at the University of Turin and a Fanon Centre member, said. 
 

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