Three people of Nigerian nationality have been arrested in Italy on charges of exploiting underage girls from Nigeria for prostitution purposes.

The Catania prosecutor's office has arrested three Nigerian nationals for exploiting others from their home country, most of whom underage, for prostitution. The charges are against a 43-year-old Nigerian woman arrested in Caserta, and a couple - a 31-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man - in Palermo. 

The first has been charged with aiding and abetting clandestine immigration and human trafficking alongside accomplices in Nigeria and Libya. The couple has been charged with the exploitation and aiding and abetting prostitution of young Nigerian girls. 

Inquiry started after victims complained 

The inquiry was started in Catania after one of the underage victims, who had traveled with 'Madame Pat', the 43-year-old Nigerian woman, as well as two other young Nigerians, and then landed in the Catania port on July 14, 2017 after being rescued at sea. The 'madame' had pressured the girl to leave the protected facilities to which she had been assigned and join her ''to put her to work under her''. Wiretaps ascertained that the Nigerian had been constantly involved in recruiting other young women from Nigeria and in arranging for their transfer to Italy as well as managing the prostitution. 

Exploitation of prostitution 

The development of the investigation made it possible to identify two Nigerian nationals engaged in exploiting the prostitution of Nigerian girls in Palermo: 'Sister Kate', who was the 'head', and her fiancé, who was used to threaten the women and collect the earnings. The importance of the role played by 'Sister Kate' in the world of Nigerian women selling their bodies on the streets emerged during a wiretapped conversation in which a young prostitute called her ''the most important in Palermo'', in reference to her role as organizer.

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