Trafficking and exploitation of Nigerian women: the impact of borders externalization policies on the right to international protection
The containment of mobility from Libya and the use of so-called voluntary return programmes have a specific impact on the access to protection of migrants. This focus analyzes, through five in-depth articles, the way in which Nigerian women victims of trafficking blocked in Libya are effectively excluded from international protection and exposed to the risk of re-trafficking.
One of the ways to reach Italy from Nigeria is through Libya. Women and girls involved in trafficking networks in Libya are in most cases subjected to violence and abuse.
Despite the condition of extreme vulnerability, they suffer the consequences of border control externalization policies implemented in Libya by Italy with the support of international organizations. These policies are aimed at preventing the crossing of the Mediterranean towards Italy and at tracing channels of forced mobility back to countries of origin and transit, the former becoming “hubs” for the control and selection of mobility.
In other words, women victims of trafficking are increasingly faced with the forced choice of returning to their country of origin through “voluntary” repatriation programs managed by the International Organization for Migration and financed by the EU and its member states including, in the foreground, Italy.
This focus aims to provide an overview of the effects of externalization policies on the phenomenon of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation from Nigeria and on the effective access to protection of women who are subjected to it.
Odinakaonye Lagi‘s contribution analyzes the social, cultural and historical factors that determine the systematic marginalization of women in Edo State, Nigeria, and how this background contributes to the spread of trafficking. Lagi also retraces the tools, primarily regulatory, put in place by the authorities to stem the phenomenon and protect women, and which are the main criticalities and inefficiencies of this protection system.
Enrica Rigo and Nazzarena Zorzella analyze the Italian legal protection systems for women victims of trafficking, focusing on the legal developments and the gaps to be faced. In particular, Enrica Rigo investigates the relevance of gender and gender persecution in relation to the recognition of international protection with particular reference to the conditions that determine exposure to trafficking. Nazzarena Zorzella compares the protections for women subjected to trafficking deriving from the international protection system and from the system provided for by art. 18 of the Consolidated Law on immigration and the complex issue of collaboration and cooperation with the authorities for access to protection.
Federica Borlizzi explains in detail the risk of re-trafficking to which are exposed women returned from Libya and Niger through the IOM repatriation programs.
Finally, Giulia Crescini and Cristina Cecchini provide an overview on the effects of externalization policies towards a progressive debasement of the right to protection of trafficked women. The impossibility of physically reaching Italy and the return to the country of origin through assisted repatriation constitute, in fact, an exclusion from the right to asylum.