Is Italy a Hotspot for Human Trafficking?


The Situation

There are fundamental differences between people smuggling and human trafficking:

  • People smuggling involves migrants being facilitated entry into a country through illegal means
  • Human trafficking involves the threat or use of force, coercion or deception against a person for the purpose of exploitation
  • A smuggled person agrees to travel
  • A trafficked person has either not consented or has been deceived into giving consent
  • A person can begin the journey as a migrant or asylum seeker but become a trafficking victim as traffickers prey on the most vulnerable

Human trafficking and slavery does not only affect people from other countries. Italian citizens also fall victim to exploitation and abuse.

Prevalent types of exploitation:

  • Forced prostitution – frequently of young girls
  • Labour exploitation – particularly in the agricultural sector
  • Domestic servitude

In Italy

Europe is not the ‘paradise’ that some believe:

  • The reception centres in Italy are substantially overcrowded
  • Arrivals are often sent to unprotected facilities from which they disappear
  • Women and girls are being removed at night and forced into prostitution
  • Unaccompanied minors are particularly at risk
  • Traffickers sometimes wait until asylum has been granted to victims and then traffik them within Italy and across Europe
  • False stories of success and a better life in Italy are sent back to family and friends

Control is achieved through:Clenched fist and scared woman show physical abuse and control

  • Physical, emotional and sexual abuse
  • Confiscation of identity documents and restriction of movement
  • Debt bondage
  • Threats of violence to family members
  • Juju oaths
  • Unfounded threats of being deported by immigration agencies

If you suspect human trafficking

Photo of woman holding a smartphone


Please contact Osservatorio Interventi Tratta Helpline: 800 290 290

What can you do?


Here are some examples of campaign posts in Catania and Rome. These provided intelligence on the core human trafficking issues within Italy.


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Latest posts


"1 in 5 victims report having come into contact with healthcare services during the time they were being trafficked"- 2016 Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland.

We're speaking at #NHSsafeguarding conference about the role of the #NHS in preventing #ModernSlavery

We received 418 reports of potential exploitation of workers in the food industry in 2018. That includes those working in pubs, hotels, restaurants and takeaways. Popping out for a bite to eat this week? Keep your eyes peeled for signs of exploitation and call us on 0800 432 0804

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