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Salvini’s Decree Becomes Law: the Consequences

The ddl 840/2018better known as Salvini’s decree on immigration and security, has become law after approval by the Chamber of Deputies. One of the biggest changes and challenges that has come out of this decree is the removal of humanitarian protection, a lower level of asylum status provided for by Italian rather than international law – given to 25 percent of Italy’s asylum seekers last year, according to the AFP. It will also make it harder to obtain Italian citizenship and provides for the revocation of ‘acquired’ citizenship, as well as changing the rules around hosting asylum seekers in reception centres.

As an organisation that works with socially and economically disadvantaged people, female  victims of violence, and also provides accommodation – at the ‘third level’, i.e. for people who have already lived in Italy for some time and whose long-term integration we support -, we feel compelled to investigate and fully understand the implications of this legislation. As such, we held a public meeting on 30th November, in collaboration with the social enterprise Xenia who have been hosting asylum seekers for two years and with whom we share our work space. We were joined by Barbara Cattelan and Enrica Origlialawyers with ASGI (an association that studies migration legislation), who sought to analyse and interpret how the new laws will work in practice, and Monica Ceruttithe representative for Equal Opportunities in Piemonte.

So, what has changed for asylum seekers?
For anyone submitting an application now, the chances of receiving protection are greatly reduced. There is no direct long-term replacement for humanitarian protection, but some much more limited forms of protection have been introduced.

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‘Paid for’ in Turin: Rachel Moran and the violence of prostitution

It took Rachel Moran 10 years to write her book Paid For: My Journey through Prostitution, where she recounts not only the seven years she spent in prostitution, but also offers an extremely thought-provoking and profound analysis of the phenomenon of prostitution itself, where various forms of social discrimination overlap. Discrimination based on gender and race is rife and disproportionately affects women, often the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. Having made this observation and reflection, the idea for her book was born, and the book itself, along with Moran’s activism, has become a political tool in the fight against prostitution.

“I’ve never heard a statistic as as the Canadian situation,” Moran tells us, “where 56% of prostituted women are indigenous Canadian, but only 6% of the nation is indigenous Canadian, as so of course only 3% of the nation is indigenous female Canadian. So we’re talking about more than half of the prostituted population drawn from just 3% of society. You can’t look at stats like that and not see that racism is running right through prostitution in multi-racial societies. A friend of mine who runs a facility in Minnesota, year on year deals with around 70% young African American girls, but this is in a state whose population is only 10% African American.”

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Sign the Manifesto ‘My Body, My Rights!’

343 women from 28 countries throughout Europe decided to stand up together for women’s rights in the European Union and throughout the world. Feminist activists, politicians, or simple citizens, they launch today a common manifesto, paying tribute to the Manifesto 343 which was released in France in 1971. With this call, they refuse to give up while confronting regressive policies in the continent, they refuse inequalities between European women, they call for extension of the right to safe and legal abortion in the EU.

The right to a safe and legal abortion has been fought for and ultimately obtained in many European countries, yet some women still do not have the choice over their own bodies. The rise of nationalism and conservatism in the European Union has put this right under threat, and we are increasingly seeing steps being taken to erode it throughout the region. This is unacceptable. This right is neither a whim, nor an option, but a necessity for a Europe of freedom, equality and democracy.

The right to a safe and legal abortion should be universal. It should be available for any woman. If the European Union claims to defend human rights, it should be willing to enforce this right throughout the EU and to promote it throughout the world.

We know that in some countries taking a stand and defending this right is difficult, that sometimes even freedom of expression is threatened. This is why this Manifesto has been written, paying tribute to the first 343 Manifesto sent out at a time when defending this right was almost impossible.

We have signed this manifesto as Associazione Iroko and as individuals because we believe every woman in the EU and around the world should have access to safe and legal abortions. We urge all of our friends, supporters and partners to do the same.

Visit 343manifesto.eu to sign.

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Convention on the Sex Industry and Human Trafficking, Rome, May 2018

“We all want to find ways for the women to be safe. But we know that the women and the men, the boys and the girls can never be safe in prostitution. We can only reduce the harm. That’s not good enough. We don’t talk about reducing the harm for sexually abused children or women who are raped. We talk about ending it. And yet, when you talk about ending the sex trade, many people laugh at you and say ‘we can’t stop prostitution’. I say ‘really? Do you not think that we can end poverty?’ and they’ll say yes. ‘Do you think that we can end child sexual abuse?’ ‘Well, yes.’ ‘Do you think we can end racism?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well why can’t you imagine ending prostitution? Men are not born with this innate desire to have sex with a woman who isn’t consenting. We call that socialisation and patriarchy. Of course there is no innate need for men to have one-sided consensual sex with a woman who doesn’t want to be there. The propagandists that spin the mythology that leads people to say legalisation is the only way, know very well that, if they say prostitution is inevitable, it’s always been here and it always will be here, people somehow absorb this and believe it. If I hear the phrase ‘the oldest profession’ one more time, I might have to do some damage. Of course it’s not a profession. Of course that isn’t the case. Children have been sexually abused forever. Does that make it natural and inevitable? Of course it doesn’t.”

Julie Bindel, Convention on the Sex Industry and Human Trafficking, Rome, May 2018.

To read Julie Bindel’s speech in full, as well as others from the convention, click here.

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Sexual Offences Bill adopted in Somalia

The 30th May 2018 the Council of Ministers in Somalia unanimously adopted the Sexual Offences Bill, “the most comprehensive Bill on sexual crimes, seen anywhere”, as  Judge Vagn Joensen (President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) said.
If successfully implemented, this bill will effectively criminalise a wide range of sexual offences, provide vital support to survivors, and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of those investigating and prosecuting sexual violence.

The bill has been drafted thanks to the support of LAW (Legal Action Worldwide), a unique non-profit network of human rights lawyers who provide creative legal assistance to individuals and communities who have suffered from human rights violations and abuses in fragile and conflict-affected areas.  LAW worked from the start in close collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development. 

You can find more information about it here.

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The Inextricable Links Between the Sex Industry and Human Trafficking: Reflections from our Convention

We at Associazione Iroko were thrilled to welcome guests including Rachel Moran, Ingeborg Kraus, Blessing Okoedion and Julie Bindel to Rome on 27th and 28th May for the International Conference on the sex industry and human trafficking, which we organised alongside Resistenza Femminista, UDI Napoli, Salute Donna and Differenza Donna.

We are not newcomers to this conversation, but the ability of these speakers to ignite passion and inspire us to action never fails to amaze us. We cannot underestimate the power of a knowledgeable, empathetic and eloquent speaker. We were lucky to have various different perspectives represented among our guests – from survivors of prostitution and human trafficking, to professional trauma counsellors and international authors – which offer a rounded picture of this damaging industry.

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Human Rights: focus on human trafficking

Iroko Association will take part in a meeting organised by the Human Rights subcommittee of the European Parliament on the 11th and 12th July 2018 in Brussels. Iroko’s director, Esohe Aghatise, will speak about the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, which will be celebrated on 30th July.

Aghatise will exchange views with Myria Vassiliadou, the EU anti-trafficking coordinator, followed by a conversation between the governor of Edo State, Nigeria, Godwin Obaseki, and Yinka Omorogbe, the president of the Task Force, created by the Edo State government to combat trafficking, of which Esohe Aghatise is also an active member.

The full programme of the event is available here.

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62nd UN Commision on the Status of Women – the #MeToo Side Event

At the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) organised a side event entitled #MeToo Say Survivors: Human Rights, Gender and Trafficking in Human Beings. After a year in which sexual misconduct and the abuse and exploitation of women, particularly in the film industry, has been under the spotlight, this event served as an opportunity to discuss the plight of trafficked women both in the context of the #MeToo movement and through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5.2 on eliminating violence against women.

Survivor leaders Autumn Burris, Mickey Meji and Shandra Woworuntu were at the center of the conversation, alongside representatives from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) International, UN Women, UNODC and Equality Now. They were also joined by Mira Sorvino, who is not only the UNODC Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Trafficking in Persons but has been instrumental in the inception and development of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

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Convention on the sex industry and human trafficking 28th May

IROKO Association, Resistenza Femminista, Unione Donne Italiane di Napoli , Salute Donna and Differenza Donna are holding a day of talks and reflection on the sex industry and human trafficking on 28th May 2018 from 15:00 to 19:00. It will be held in the “Aldo Moro” room in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome. Taking part in these talks will be the honourable Fabiana Dadone (from the 5 Star Movement) and Senator Edoardo Patriarca (from the Democratic Party).

Julie Bindel, writer and journalist (The Guardian, New Statesman, Sunday Telegraph, Standpoint), co-founder of Justice For Women and author of the book entitled The Pimping of Prostitution – an investigation into the global sex trade, drawing on interviews with 250 women from 40 countries – will be among international speakers at the event. Alongside her; Ingeborg Kraus, a German psychologist and trauma expert, who has held conferences around the world on the failure of the German Model (legalising prostitution), and the links between trauma and prostitution; Rachel Moran, an Irish survivor of prostitution, author of the book Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution and co-founder of SPACE International, an association of women who have escaped from prostitution; Blessing Okoedion, activist, author of the book Il coraggio della libertà (The Courage of Freedom), who has lived through the experience of being trafficked to Italy; Giovani Conzo, the anti-mafia prosecutor, who has been involved in significant trials of trafficked Nigerian women in Italy.

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A great step forward in the fight against human trafficking in the Nigerian region of Edo State

A great step forward in the fight against human trafficking in the Nigerian region of Edo State

This action brings together governmental forces, through the task force of which Iroko is a member, and the most important traditional and spiritual leader of Edo State and has triggered a positive mechanism for change in the region, where a large majority of those trafficked from Nigeria to Europe come from. We are dedicating every available resource towards continuing this process, which represents a concrete opportunity for change for many Nigerians.

On 9th March Oba Ewuare II, during a well-attended ceremony held in the royal palace in Benin City, revoked the oaths imposed on victims of trafficking by native doctors in Edo State, putting a curse on anyone who creates or collaborates with underground criminal gangs who force people to take an oath. It is these criminal activities, which are not part of Edo culture and society that the Oba has distanced himself from.
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