The Save the Children organization has said that there are at least 1,660 victims of human trafficking in Italy, with ever more minors falling victim to the phenomenon.
In Italy, there are at least 1,660 victims of human trafficking, with an ever-growing number of minors affected. In a single year, the percentage of child victims rose from 9% to 13% of the total.
''The growing trend was also confirmed by the assessment of operators of Save the Children's Vie d'Uscita - Exit Routes project, which in 2018, in only five regions, have intercepted 2,210 victims of child trafficking who were either underage or just over the age of 18. This number grew by 58%, compared to 1,396 victims estimated in 2017,'' Save the Children said.
The figures were released a few days away of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30 in a report by the Italian branch of the NGO in the "Little Invisible Slaves 2019" report.
One in four victims in Europe are children
''A quarter of suspected or identified trafficking victims in Europe are children and the main goal of human traffickers is sexual exploitation - a new report released by Save the Children finds. Out of 20,500 victims who were registered in the European Union in 2015-16, 56% of cases were related to trafficking for sexual exploitation, while 26% of cases were related to labor exploitation.
One in four victims is under 18 and two out of three victims are women or girls,'' the report states.
"Although this data represents only the surface of a mostly hidden issue, the increasingly younger age of the victims and the prevalence of sexual exploitation were also confirmed by 74 new cases of children in the country who managed to get out of the exploitation system in 2018, and are currently looked after by institutional protection programs. One in five victims do not exceed the age of 15 and sexual exploitation affects almost 9 out of 10 cases," it added.
Labor exploitation growing in Italy
''According to the assessment of Save the Children's Vie d'Uscita - Exit Routes project, the girls who are most exposed to trafficking by criminal organizations and networks come from Nigeria, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. More specifically, 64% of victims are from Nigeria, and 34% from Romania, Bulgaria and Albania,'' the report said, noting that the ''business of international trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Italy is based on a dynamic system, which adapts to changing conditions.''
''Although it is not the main objective of the trafficking system, labor exploitation in Italy is growing and in 2018 the number of offences involving minor victims, both Italian and foreign children, were 263,'' it noted, adding that 76% was in the services sector. The largest number of violations, it said, were seen in the hospitality sector (115), trade (39), manufacturing (36), agriculture (17) and construction (11).