There are an estimated 145,000 people liing in conditions of modern slavery in Italy (GSI 2018). Italy is a destination, transit, and source country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Victims originate from Nigeria, Romania, Morocco, China, and other countries. Female victims are often subjected to sex trafficking in Italy after accepting promises of employment as dancers, singers, models, restaurant servers, or caregivers. Romanian and Albanian criminal groups force Eastern European women and girls into commercial sex. Rita was homeless when she was approached by a woman who asked her if she would like to travel and promised to take her to Europe where she could work in her supermarket. Before she left, the woman told Rita the travel costs and made her undergo a voodoo ceremony and swear an oath that she would pay back the money for the journey. As the woman accompanied Rita on the journey from Nigeria through Libya, her attitude began to change. Rita was beaten, abused, and raped by men along the way but the woman did not intervene or protect her. The journey was traumatising, and she saw many people die on the way. Once she arrived in Florence, instead of the supermarket work she was promised, Rita was forced to work as a prostitute in a brothel to pay back the money she owed. After three months of being locked up in the brothel, she escaped and is now in Germany, but she is still being threatened by the Madam in Italy.
Libya exists as the main transit point for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. 150 000 men, women and children make the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea each year, with 3000 dying while attempting the journey. With authorities trying to regulate this migration, it is estimated that 400,000 to 1 million people are now bottled up in Libya. This has led to detention centres becoming overrun and along with other abuses, migrants find themselves vulnerable to being sold off in slave auctions as labourers, sex workers or to militia groups.
Bouquet was sold to work on a plantation in Sabha. He then found himself kidnapped by rebels led by Abdul Karim, captured and held along with 1000 other people he was subjected to physical abuse daily. Though he was able to escape in 2016, Bouquet details the conditions endured in Libya, he tells of the resale of migrant prisoners to rebels as slaves, and of the trafficking of migrant’s organs who drown on their journey across the Mediterranean.