IROKO’s activities can be split into three categories:
- Direct service provision
- Sharing knowledge and expertise
- Advocacy and prevention
Direct Service Provision
IROKO works mainly with identified and presumed victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. The focus of our service provision is to support victims to establish independent lives where they choose, whether that be their country of origin or arrival, including the search for a dignified alternative to prostitution. IROKO works alongside several partners, at a local and national/international level, to find the right solution for each individual. Important services include legal advice, job-seeking, searching for long-term accommodation, accessing education and training, and psychological support. Services such as legal advice and training courses are not offered in-house by IROKO staff, but individuals are signposted to relevant partners and service-providers, and guided through the process of accessing such services.
IROKO also manages one small shelter in Italy, which is categorised as third-level. The shelter can house up to 3 people at a time, for a maximum of 12 months.
The second level offers medium-term accommodation and initial support, for example in terms of learning the Italian language and applying for asylum or other forms of protection in order to stay in Europe.
The third level, which is the level in which IROKO’s shelters work, is when individuals have regularised their documents and permission to stay in Europe, often people who have already been here for several years and may even speak the language well and have some work experience, but need support to integrate effectively into Italian society and establish a socially and economically stable and independent life.
Sharing knowledge and expertise
IROKO believes in collaboration and strength in numbers, so a key part of our work is sharing the knowledge and expertise gained during our 20 years. By offering training courses and participating in national and international meetings, IROKO strengthens the network of like-minded organisations, from those offering emergency shelter to asylum seekers, to policy-makers at every level.
We have attended several national and international events as experts in the field of human trafficking, for example OSCE’s annual Human Dimension Seminar. IROKO also offers training sessions and courses, such as one run recently for staff from partner organisations who work with asylum seekers, to increase their knowledge of the human trafficking situation in Italy and offer some insights and strategies when working with potential victims of trafficking.
Advocacy and prevention
IROKO works within the reality that trafficking and the sex trade are widespread, and so services for those who suffer at their ‘hands’ are invaluable. However, IROKO also maintains a certain idealism that by working together we can rid the world of these practices and their consequent harm, even preventing the need for support services like ours in the future. An active member of national and international networks, including CATW, ENOMW and CAP International, advocacy and campaigning are key elements of our work. IROKO is an abolitionist association, firmly believing that prostitution is inherently violent and a symptom of gender-based power imbalance in society and therefore that it cannot exist in a gender-equal society that upholds human rights. As such, we are proponents of the Abolitionist or Nordic Model because prostitution can never be considered a job and should not be legalised or state-regulated, rather the focus should be on the demand-side and educating society, especially men, to no longer deem the purchase of sex acceptable. To learn more about abolitionism, click here, and the Abolitionist Model, click here.
As part of our advocacy work, IROKO attends and participates in many international events to promote the Nordic Model and combat trafficking, such as the annual Commission on the Status of Women (read our article about the 62nd CSW) and the Edo Women’s Conference held annually by the Edo Women’s Development Initiative (EWDI) in Nigeria. IROKO also organises regular events, with a particular focus on the promotion of the Abolitionist Model in Italy, such as our annual conference alongside our abolitionist partners (watch videos from 2018, read about 2018, read 2017 speeches) and the recent presentation in Turin of the book Paid For: My Journey through Prostitution by Rachel Moran. Our Founder, Esohe Aghatise, writes articles, such as this one for The Guardian, and participates in interviews, such as here for the BBC. We are also the only international member of the Edo State Taskforce Against Trafficking and Illegal Migration, which works to support the successful return and reintegration into society of trafficked persons, as well as the prevention of trafficking through education and awareness campaigns.
On 4th July 2019 our founder Esohe Aghatise participated in a hearing of the constitutional affairs committee in the Italian Senate that focused on prostitution in Italy. Follow this link to watch her speech in full (from 1:56:00).
We are registered in the Turin Municipal Council Registry of Non Profit Organizations and in the Regional Council Registry of Non Profit (Charity) Organizations. Iroko is also a member of the Coordinamento interregionale Antitratta, which operates through the Anti-trafficking platform, and the Coordinamento Cittadini contro la Violenza alle Donne (CCCVD) in Turin; IROKO has joined the network Nodo territoriale metropolitano contro le discriminazioni in Turin.