“You say that when you get there you will not run,” Sophia, a young woman who had come back from Europe, told me. In exchange for the madam covering travel expenses, the girl agrees to work for her until she has paid back the cost of the journey; the madam keeps her documents, and tells her that any attempt to flee will cause the juju, now inhabiting her body, to attack her. “If you don’t pay, you will die,” Sophia said. “If you speak with the police, you will die. If you tell the truth, you will die.”…
…“There’s an extraordinary level of implicit racism here, and it’s evident in the fact that there are no underage Italian girls working the streets,” Father Enzo Volpe, a priest who runs a center for migrant children and trafficking victims, told me. “Society dictates that it’s bad to sleep with a girl of thirteen or fourteen years. But if she’s African? Nobody gives a fuck. They don’t think of her as a person.”
No, this isn’t about our current administration or its effects, but stories like these are a big and important part of what any government is dealing with in the world, forces that span continents and undermine the kind of social order most of us desire and depend on. Like the more familiar articles about Syrian refugees in Europe and undocumented Mexican workers in the US, this one involves children, poverty, desperation, cruelty, long migration, criminal organizations in many countries, and the fate of darker-skinned foreigners in what we think of as “Western” nations. These stories are not unrelated, and as always, everything is complicated.