Every year tens of thousands of West Africans migrate to Europe in search of a better life. But for some of them that search will end in tragedy, as they fall victim to competing mafia gangs that prey on the hopes of the desperate. In southern Italy, it is Nigerian women who are among the most exploited, with many ending up trapped in the nightmare world of the sex trade.
In the first of two special reports, Juliana Ruhfus investigates the plight of African women caught up in a web of organised crime, prostitution and people trafficking. In the following account Chiara Caprio, an Italian journalist who was involved in the making of the film, describes what they found out in southern Italy.
The ghetto of Destra Volturno, an assembly of houses once used by Neapolitan tourists, is surrounded by flowers as it hosts the funeral of Mary Morad, a seven-year-old from Ghana. She was killed by a man with psychiatric problems. But in Castel Volturno, more than one-third of the 25,000 official citizens are African and, in particular, Ghanaian and Nigerian.
Al Jazeera came to investigate the phenomenon of Nigerian organised crime in this small town, quickly forgotten after serious riots in 2008, when hundreds of Africans took to the streets to protest against the massacre of six young Ghanaians committed by Giuseppe Setola, the army of the Casalesi clan.
Mary’s family is waiting for the coffin and tension grows as delays and friction increase. Bose Atta, Mary’s Nigerian mother, who was trafficked to Italy to be forced into prostitution, is nervous. She cries as her friends express anger against Mary’s father, a man from Ghana who is now married to another Nigerian woman.
Finally, the coffin arrives and a group of men start celebrating with a Muslim rite. An improvised march towards the cemetery starts under a warm sun overheating a tormented African community.
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