Promotion of Women’s Health
Among the women who we support we have observed a lack of information, or even a prevalence of misinformation, about their rights and the national/local healthcare system here in Italy, which can be very complicated to understand and access even for Italians. As such, the language barrier that exists for many migrant women presents an extra obstacle. National and cultural differences often affect our perception of our bodies and our health, ideas around differences between men and women and the healthcare services we expect, which can be particularly important when it comes to pregnancy and parenthood.
In November 2019, in partnership with Medici Senza Frontiere and the YWCA-UCDG Association Turin, we began a course on health and access to healthcare services for women who are hosted by YWCA in first-level accommodation (CAS) and therefore relatively new to Turin, as well as migrant women who have lived here for as long as 20 years, most of whom have children. Some of the women, despite having lived here for a long time, still face challenges in terms of integration and access to services, while others have more experience and knowledge on the subject. This project seeks not only to inform these women for their own benefit and that of their families, but also to equip them with information that they can pass on to others, as word of mouth can be a powerful tool among migrant communities.
In early 2019 we began a pilot project to train a small group of 10 migrants and asylum seekers, the majority of whom are women, in beekeeping. Three of the participants will be selected to continue the pilot and work alongside an agricultural and apiary expert, Davide Lo Bue, to set up our first apiary at the farmhouse we are renovating outside Turin, Casale Del Rio. The others will be supported in their search for a job.
The course, provided in collaboration with the Associazione Parco del Nobile, is divided into an initial theoretical phase and then a series of practical sessions held at the Agriforest Cooperative in Turin and at Iroko’s Farmhouse in Villamiroglio, where we have set up 12 beehives.
The aim of the course is to increase knowledge and awareness of the world of bees and to acquire beehive management techniques for organic honey production.
We offer a range of services to support people in the process of integration and establishing a stable and dignified life in Italy. At the end of 2018 we employed a linguistic and cultural mediator to reinforce our link to the Nigerian community in Turin and help tailor our support, specifically with Nigerian women, who make up the majority of those trafficked to Italy for sexual exploitation.
Because every individual is different, we always start the support process with an interview, alongside our mediator, to help us understand the specific situation and needs of each person who comes to us. Commonly, the problems migrants and asylum seekers face are around their immigration status, work and housing, but there are also a whole host of psychological, health and other challenges that many people face. After this initial interview we seek to connect people to the appropriate services, whether they are in-house or offered externally by other local entities. Our in-house services include:
- Accommodation – we manage two apartments in Turin where we can house people for up to 12 months to support their integration process. This is third level accommodation, as explained in What we do
- Accountancy advice and services, including applications for residency or citizenship
- Psychological support and counselling
- Support in searching for jobs and housing
- Language and educational tutoring for adults
Another service that we offer is legal consultancy, via a local Turin lawyer, has started a collaboration with IROKO offering our beneficiaries free and confidential legal advice in order to manage any problems that they might encounter in terms of immigration, citizenship, special protection, article 18 (social protection), and other similar matters.
Prevention of trafficking in Nigeria
Through scholarships and economic assistance this project aims to give opportunities to the girls at risk of being involved in trafficking networks, as well as to their families.
Campaign against Legalising Prostitution in Italy
Since Iroko was set up in 1998, Founder Esohe Aghatise has been actively engaged in the international abolitionist network and a key figure in the movement, especially based on her knowledge of trafficking and experience as a mediator for Nigerian victims of trafficking, often for sexual exploitation. The proportion of victims of trafficking to Italy who were trafficked for sexual exploitation has been steadily rising in recent years, from 57.5% in 2016 to 90% in 2018. This type of trafficking exists to ‘feed’ the sex industry in Italy and Europe, which is why campaigning against prostitution is a key part of our work to combat trafficking. To learn more about this approach, click here.
There is currently political will in Italy to legalise prostitution, in particular from The League, one half of the governing coalition. Iroko is actively engaging with politicians at a local and national level to foster an opposition to The League’s proposals. In 2017 and 2018 Iroko held annual conferences on trafficking and prostitution, in partnership with other abolitionist organisations, and regularly organises and participates in meetings and conferences.
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).
International Political Activity and Lobbying
Iroko, in partnership with CATW, has been engaged in international policy and lobbying and since 2003 has taken part in the annual Commission on Women in the world (CSW) organized by The UN in New York. For more information on the international situation with regards to laws and conventions around trafficking and prostitution, click here.