We are very pleased to start a new project COALESCE, which began in January 2021, funded by the AMIF Fund and led by the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS), in partnership with Cyprus Refugee Council (Cyprus), CARITAS Cyprus, IROKO Onlus (Italy), Marta Centre (Latvia), European Network of Migrant Women, Immigrant Council Ireland, Solwodi (Germany), Klapeida (Lithuania).
Coalesce is a two-year transnational project involving five European countries: Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Lithuania, Ireland, and Germany.
Read our press release to find out exactly what the project is all about!
Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist, doctor, author, activist, psychiatrist, university lecturer and so much more, died on Sunday 21st March 2021, at the age of 89. She gained international recognition for her innumerous contributions to feminist battles, her brave honesty and her unwavering conviction, which even saw her imprisoned for two months in 1981, for “attacking the ruling system”.
Our Executive Director, Esohe Aghatise shares her thoughts on this incredible feminist and women’s rights campaigner.
I met Nawal El Saadawi in London in 2015 at Housemans Bookshop in Caledonian Road, where we were both billed as speakers on female genital mutilation. I was struck at how she expressed herself so freely, without censorship and shared positions that were quite unconventional and, when considered within her own context, quite revolutionary. During the evening’s exchange, the question of male circumcision arose. She was quite firm and clear on the position that both male and female circumcision are genital mutilation of otherwise healthy body parts. She went further to express her views on regional and global political economic relations and their impact on women and girls. She held strong views on gender relations and was not at all afraid to express them.
I especially admired her fearlessness, energy and determination and would have loved to spend more time learning from her. She invited me to visit her in Cairo, and though I called her a couple of times, I never did get round to visiting. That is a huge loss I will live with forever. Her passing is a huge loss to women’s rights and to the world in general.
Child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children is on the rise in Europe. The outbreak of Covid-19 this past year, has only exacerbated the situation for these children and made many more vulnerable to abuse. Today Child10 is announcing the prominent 2021 Child10 Awarded Member organizations who are working across Europe and will now join forces to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls in Europe. The organization Iroko Onlus is one of these ten organizations selected from over 90 nominations from 27 countries across the globe.
“The recognition by Child10 will ensure that we will be able to expand the impact of our work, to reach more survivors in Italy and also to reach more vulnerable women and girls in Nigeria. We very much look forward to collaborating with Child10 to expand our work and to ensure that our advocacy has the kind of impact that we hope to achieve. It is an honour to receive this award. Thank you very much”, says Esohe Aghatise, founder and executive director of Associazione Iroko.
Read the press release in full: Child10 Press Release 2021
This week, Iroko made a submission to the European Commission’s inception impact assessment proposal for a legislative initiative on preventing and combating gender-based violence and domestic violence, in the hope that the EC will take the important step of recognising sexual exploitation as a form of violence against women. We must thank our friends and colleagues at the Brussels’ Call for their support and input for this submission.
Below you can read our submission in full.
Iroko is an Italian-based NGO that has, for over 20 years, campaigned on behalf of and provided assistance to victims/survivors of domestic violence, prostitution, and sex trafficking.
As a frontline organisation we come into regular contact with predominantly migrant women, often victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, who come to us for support. These women describe violence experienced at the hands of men, especially sex buyers. This violence often corresponds to the internationally accepted definition of torture. Not surprisingly, they are often reluctant to talk about the trauma they suffered or are unable to put it into words. Our aim is to help them rebuild their lives, but we cannot do this alone. Recognition at every level of the violence and trauma they have endured strengthens their rights and status as victims of violence, in order to obtain appropriate protections as such. Legislation on all forms of VAW is needed to ensure that unacceptable behaviour is punished, and serves as a signal of what we as a society deem acceptable behaviour.
In her interview with Radical Girlsss to mark the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Day 2020, Rachel Moran, whose own book Paid for: My Journey through Prostitution we consider a must-read for everybody, was asked about what advice she would give young women today. She talked about the modern challenges posed by social media and the way young women are constantly bombarded with images and messages about sexuality, as well as the importance of arming ourselves with information, learning from the feminists who have gone before us.
“We, all of us – young women and middle-aged women like myself – we need to respect our elders, and that’s something that I don’t see us doing often enough. Because there are women who’ve come before us, who have written extremely important texts and, honestly, if I had read – I’m not sure when Sheila Jeffreys’ The Idea of Prostitution was actually published, I think it might have been during the ‘90s. But I can tell you had I read that book before I got into prostitution, I wouldn’t have gone near prostitution. You know, because it lays out so very clearly the dynamics of what prostitution involves.
To Mark the EU Anti-Trafficking Day 2020, Adriana from Radical Girlsss (the youth wing of the European Network of Migrant Women) interviewed Rachel Moran, the survivor activist, author of Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution and founding member of the survivor group SPACE International.
Can trafficking for sexual exploitation be separated from prostitution? We agree with Rachel that they are part of the same phenomenon: trafficking exists to feed the ever-growing market for women’s bodies. You can read our statement on why we must target demand for prostitution in order to tackle trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Associazione Iroko’s Statement on 18th October 2020, European Union Anti-Trafficking Day:
End Demand to End Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation
Human trafficking is, by its very nature, an extremely difficult phenomenon to measure, and the data on the number of identified victims inevitably gives an incomplete picture of the scale of the problem. Between 2017 and 2018, a total of 74,514 victims of trafficking were detected in over 110 countries. The US Department of State reports 105,7876 identified victims worldwide in 2019, showing a clear increase year on year. The estimated total number of victims is much higher, with the ILO putting it at more than 40 million in 2016. Trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls, who – according to UNODC data – represent 72% of detected victims of trafficking globally. Moreover, sexual exploitation is the predominant form of trafficking.
Given the scale of this problem, we have written a statement to mark the day and outline what the data and what our experience have taught us about trafficking for sexual exploitation and how it can be combatted.
Read the full statement.
For the second year in a row, Iroko was invited to participate in the event Rosso Indelebile (Indelible red), a series of artistic events, which took place in Turin and focused on the theme of gender-based violence. For two years Rosso Indelebile has brought art to various shared spaces around the city not usually designated as artistic locations. Similarly, the theme of gender-based violence is part of our everyday lives and “cannot be enclosed in an auditorium, but must be exposed and talked about by everyone”, by society, as highlighted by Isabella Bulgheroni, a member of the organisation Artemixia, one of the organisers of the event, in collaboration with the NGO MAIS. The aim of taking art onto the streets is to encourage people to ask themselves questions, and potentially find the answers, stimulating both the individual and the collective to try and see the world from different perspectives.
Gender-based violence, specifically, is a pressing issue, with a “war being fought around the world”, as defined by Esohe Aghatise, the president of Iroko. On 29th September Iroko participated in the 2020 installment, attending an event dedicated to migration flows and trafficking – details of which are here (in Italian) – and bringing the testimony of a survivor of trafficking and prostitution, Liliam Altuntas, who has told her story through the book of which she is the protagonist, I girasoli di Liliam’ (currently only available in Italian).
Abortion in Europe: Fully Acquired Right or Tireless Fight ?
ENoMW’s Statement for the International Safe Abortion Day
Brussels, 28 September 2020
“Never forget that a crisis will suffice for women’s rights to be threatened. These rights are never granted. You need to remain careful for your entire life”
With the COVID-19 crisis, this quote from French feminist Simone de Beauvoir proved itself to be once again a tough reminder of an ugly truth. In the face of this unprecedented health emergency, European countries have adopted extraordinary measures such as extensive lockdowns, restricting freedoms and human rights in the process. First victims? Women, everywhere, enduring violence; from being trapped with abusers (many European countries have seen a rise of about 30% in emergency calls reporting male violence in the home) to not being able to enjoy their rights, such as the one to access safe and legal abortion.
In Italy, Government inaction has left women and girls facing avoidable obstacles to accessing this right, putting their health and lives at risk according to Human Rights Watch. This failure to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health care is not surprising; it only highlights many European countries’ outdated restrictions and the harm they cause to women and girls.
The Gloria Steinem Equality Fund to End Sex Trafficking, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), SPACE International and The Sisterhood is Global Institute have written this letter to express the global support for Parliamentary efforts in Germany to adopt the Equality Model. Associazione IROKO has signed the letter and we give our full support to efforts in Germany and around the world to recognise that “prostitution is not work but rather a very harmful and dehumanising system, which fuels the sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls”.
Liliam Altuntas, survivor of trafficking and prostitution, told IROKO “reading this letter has really made me happy, especially because Germany is a country that’s very close to my heart. Because when I was trafficked, I was sold and brought to Germany. Hearing that there are people who support and make way for this kind of legal change is really important to me. It would represent a real response to the suffering that we have endured, so I’m very happy to join this fight and I’m sure that we will win.”
We encourage our friends and supporters to read and sign the letter.
Click here to watch an interview with Dr. Ingeborg Kraus, conducted by ENoMW‘s Anna Zobnina, in May 2020 just after the publication of a letter signed by various German MPs calling for brothels to remain permanently closed after the coronavirus lockdown.