Italian authorities announced Wednesday that they had arrested two 'madams' and put 10 other people of African origins under investigation for the incitement to prostitution of 15 young Nigerian women who had arrived in Sicily on migrant boats and were forced to sell sex.
After arriving in Sicily by boat, 15 young Nigerian women were forced to engage in prostitution to pay for the trip. The two women that forced them to do so, fellow Nigerian women aged 43 and 52, have been arrested by the Venice flying squad, which also placed 10 other individuals of African origins under investigation, authorities announced Wednesday.
Seven searches between Mestre and the Padua and Verona provinces were also conducted. The two 'madams' and the others placed under investigation have been charged with incitement to prostitution and aiding and abetting clandestine migration.
Inquiry started after one woman asked for help
The investigation, coordinated by the Venice anti-mafia squad, started after one woman started crying and asked for help from city police during an anti-prostitution check in the streets. She agreed to file a report after being persuaded to do so by the police.
The victims are 15 young Nigerian women between the ages of 18 and 23, who since 2018 had arrived in Sicily onboard boats with other migrants.
From Sicily, they were transferred to Naples and then to Venice, where they were forced to engage in prostitution.
Threats using voodoo rituals
The investigation found that the young women had been "managed" by the madams, who frightened them using voodoo rituals and the threat of retaliation against their families.
The victims, who sold sex for between 30 and 50 euros, were forced to pay 200 months every month for 'rent' of the sidewalk and another 200 for housing, as well as money to pay back what was charged for their journey to Italy: 25,000 euros.