Legal frameworks and State responsibility: conversation with Mickey Meji e Sigma Huda

The series of webinars entitled Debunking Sex Work, organized by Associazione Iroko Onlus, saw us host Mickey Meji, survivor, activist and founder of the SESP Survivor Empowerment & Support Programme, and Sigma Huda, lawyer at the Bangladeshi Supreme Court, former special rapporteur on trafficking, in particular women and children, for the United Nations, in the penultimate of seven meetings.

With regard to sexual trafficking, Sigma reminded us that the national legislative systems are based on three models, adopted to counter/regulate the phenomenon of prostitution:

    1. the prohibitionist model
    2. the regulatory model
    3. the abolitionist model

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Unforgettable: I started from scratch

The COALESCE project aims at providing support to female migrant victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in Europe through gender-specific psycho-social, legal and economic support and assistance. 

Within the framework of the COALESCE project we are happy to announce a series of blog posts that bring forward the stories and perspectives of migrant women victims of trafficking in their integration journeys in Europe. 

Today we bring you “Unforgettable: I started from scratch”, written by a women accompanied and supported by our partner SOLWODI (Germany). 

Involving five European countries – Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Lithuania, Ireland, and Germany – our partnership is set to develop synergies and complementarities in facilitating needs identification, assistance and support, and improve transnational cooperation among frontline professionals and practitioners in the field of trafficking of women for sexual exploitation.

This project is funded by the European Union Asylum Migration and Integration Fund. 

Learn more about the COALESCE project here.

“Unforgettable: I started from scratch”
Life, as they say, cannot be predicted. Wanting to live a normal life is asking too much but, what is the dream of every child that has been born into this world? Well, they can still dream. They are still babies, and their parents are responsible. A very important question is what happens to the child when parents or the family that is supposed to love and care for the child are the ‘problem’ – when they are the oneshurting the child. An innocent child, a sweet girl. I didn’t ask to be born. It wasn’t my fault that I was born into this world, and I didn’t choose my parents or family. I did nothing wrong. I grew like every normal kid until life took a U-turn when my mother remarried. I never knew my father. Having a new daddy changed everything for me: I became the bad blood, the one who everybody blames for everything. I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes, like every other child. When I did, they hit me at the slightest provocation. I never understood why everything changed, why they hated me. I mean, what does an 8-year-old child know?

Continue reading this story…


Child10 Launch Best Practice Report with IROKO and other 2021 Awardees

Today, on the occasion of the International Day against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children 2021, Child10 have released the report on Best Practices in Programming for Child Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
The report gathers best practice examples from the Child10 2021 Awarded Member Organizations working directly with child victims and children at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking throughout Europe. Associazione IROKO is very proud to be one this year’s awarded members and to have contributed to this report.
Read the report in full.

First Italian Senate Investigation into Prostitution

In 2019 the Constitutional Affairs Commission of the Senate launched an investigation into the phenomenon of prostitution in Italy, on the initiative of Senator Alessandra Maiorino. The hearings included testimony from a variety of speakers, from survivors, psychologists and anti-trafficking operators, to representatives of the third sector, including our president Esohe Aghatise, an expert on human trafficking.

During her presentation, Aghatise spoke about the impact of prostitution on women in general and on Nigerian women particularly in the Italian context and debunked the propaganda that Nigerian women “liked” being in prostitution. Esohe explains, “I spoke about their experiences, to the effect that prostitution for them was a violence they had to endure due to lack of opportunities and of alternative, dignified means of subsistence”. You can listen to her original testimony in Italian here. 

Prostitution, the “invisible elephant in the room”, as sen. Maiorino described it, is the third largest illegal industry in the world in terms of turnover, after drugs and arms.

We take this opportunity to remind you, as we have already written and shared during our webinars earlier this summer, that in July the Commission approved the final report on the investigation, paving the way for a necessary political and cultural debate on this complex and too often exploited/manipulated issue. We hope such a debate will culminate in the approval of a neo-abolitionist law, with the aim of strengthening the existing, abolitionist, Merlin law.

For those who want to learn more, you can listen to the podcast of an interview with Senator Maiorino (in Italian).

Reference: “Indagine conoscitiva sul fenomeno della prostituzione“, Commissione Affari Costituzionali, Senato della Repubblica, Servizio Studi, PROSTITUZIONE – Elementi di Documentazione, 3 luglio 2019


Pornography and Prostitution: In Conversation with Gail Dines

Pornography and Prostitution: In Conversation with Gail Dines

In spring 2021 Associazione Iroko Onlus organized a series of seminars entitled “Debunking sex work: conversations around prostitution”, bringing together various experts, survivors and activists from around the world. Every week two women explored the phenomenon of prostitution from a different perspective: from the links with trafficking and pornography, to  language, current laws, and finally the policies needed to implement the abolitionist model.

The first session was hosted by Esohe Aghatise, who welcomed Gail Dines, professor of sociology and studies on women at Wheelock College in Boston and founder and president of Culture Reframed. For many years, Dines has been carrying out research on pornography and the sex industry and has been called “the world’s leading feminist anti-pornography activist” by The Guardian .

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Launch of COALESCE Mind the Gap Reports

Within the framework of the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the #COALESCE partnership presents the Mind the Gap Reports: a needs analysis for the integration of migrant female victims of #HumanTrafficking for sexual exploitation/abuse in 6 different countries. Read the full reports here in English:



Debunking ‘sex work’ #5 The Role of the Buyer with Rachel Moran and Melissa Farley

Join us once again this Thursday 17th June to hear our own Esohe Aghatise in conversation with Rachel Moran, author of Paid For: My Journey through Prostitution, executive director, feminist campaigner, founder of SPACE International and sex trade survivor, and Melissa Farley, psycologist, author, activist, founder of Prostitution Research & Education.

Their conversation will focus on:

  • Responsibility of buyers and demand for prostitution
  • Attitudes of buyers as barrier to equality
  • Shifting the focus from women onto men: changing mentalities

There will also be time for audience Q&A

See you at 6pm CET/ 12pm EDT on Zoom (where Italian interpretation will be available) or on our Facebook livestream (only in English) 




Debunking ‘sex work’ #2 Language, Migration and Trafficking

Debunking ‘sex work’ #2 Language, Migration and Trafficking with Anna Zobnina and Marie Merklinger

We hope you all enjoyed the second instalment in our Debunking ‘sex work’ series, which saw Anna Zobnina, Policy Coordinator for the European Network of Migrant Women and member of the Executive committee of European Women’s Lobby, and Marie Merklinger, activist and member of SPACE International, in conversation with Olesia Sagaidak from Radical Girlsss.

If you missed it, you can watch it in full on our Facebook page!


Join witnesses from the global south, including our own Esohe Aghatise, 15th June 2021 at 5pm CET / 11am EST, who will detail the impact of the Canadian government’s collusion with Mindgeek/Pornhub in violating human rights. 

“Women from countries of the Global South live socioeconomic injustice, armed conflicts, humanitarian emergencies. Pornography production, distribution and consumption are an abuse of power and position of vulnerability”
Esohe Aghatise (Nigeria/Italy -ENG) – jurist, women’s rights activist and United Nations Expert on Trafficking as well as Executive Director of Associazione Iroko Onlus, which provides services to victims of sexual violence and trafficking in Italy.

Read the full press release for more details!


Debunking ‘Sex Work’: Conversations about Prostitution May/June 2021

We are so excited to have kicked off our series of online events entitled Debunking ‘Sex Work’: Conversations about Prostitution! Last week saw conversation #1 hosted by our very own Esohe Aghatise, who talked to Gail Dines, PornlandAuthor and Founder and President of Culture Reframed, on the theme of Pornogrpahy and Prostitution. You can watch the recording of the event here

Check out our event page on Facebook for updates on all of the exciting speakers that will join us from around the world each week.

This series continues every Thursday at 12 noon EDT / 5pm UK / 6pm CET until 1st July, so follow this link to sign up to watch on Zoom (with Italian translation available) or follow the event on Facebook Live!