A quarter of suspected or identified trafficking victims in Europe are children and the main goal of human traffickers is sexual exploitation - a new report released by Save the Children finds. Out of 20,500 victims who were registered in the European Union in 2015-16, 56% of cases were related to trafficking for sexual exploitation, while 26% of cases were related to labour exploitation. One in four victims is under 18 and two out of three victims are women or girls.
The report finds that 1,660 victims of trafficking were estimated to be living in Italy, with the number of underage victims increasing in a year from 9% to 13%. The growing trend was also confirmed by the assessment of operators of Save the Children's Vie d’Uscita - Exit Routes project, which in 2018, in only five regions, have intercepted 2,210 victims of child trafficking who were either underage or just over the age of 18. This number grew by 58%, compared to 1,396 victims estimated in 2017.
Although this data represents only the surface of a mostly hidden issue, the increasingly younger age of the victims and the prevalence of sexual exploitation were also confirmed by 74 new cases of children in the country who managed to get out of the exploitation system in 2018, and are currently looked after by institutional protection programs. One in five victims do not exceed the age of 15 and sexual exploitation affects almost 9 out of 10 cases.
Although it is not the main objective of the trafficking system, labour exploitation in Italy is growing and in 2018 the number of offences involving minor victims, both Italian and foreign children, were 263.