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While Italy is an iconic country renowned for its ancient ruins, artistic masterpieces, and culinary creations, it is also becoming known as a top destination in the world for commercial sex trafficking. Prostitution has been legal in Italy for over 50 years and traffickers have developed an extensive network that is alive and well today. 


This presents huge challenges for anti-trafficking workers that are totally insurmountable without unified efforts such as those which ATR, our parent organization, is attempting to mobilize.


Some estimate that 120 thousand victims of trafficking are trapped in the commercial sex industry of Italy today, which generates 3.9 billion euros annually. The root of the problem is the demand from the 3 million buyers each year and the results are devastating for the women, men, and children who are treated like disposable objects in this deplorable “marketplace”. 


We believe that victims of sex trafficking are never objects to be sold but treasures who are inherently valuable. They are people who have been forced, coerced or tricked into a life of sexual exploitation. They had dreams and aspirations for a better life through legitimate work in Italy, but instead found themselves trapped in the nightmare of sex slavery. They want a way out and they need someone to walk with them to help them find it.



  • There are approximately 40.3 million victims of human trafficking for sex and labor in the world today. That is more people than ever in human history.

  • Only 50,000 of those victims were detected and reported in 2018 (2020, UNODC)

  • Half of the victims of human trafficking are trafficked for sexual exploitation. 

  • The majority of the victims of trafficking are women, especially those who are trafficked for sexual exploitation. 

  • Only 1-2 percent of victims of commercial sexual exploitation are rescued (UN, 2009)



  • Europe is a destination area for trafficking victims from a wide range of origins. For the period 2017-2018, countries in Western and Southern Europe (including Italy) detected victims of 125 different citizenships (UNODC, 2020).

  • There are an estimated 1 million victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Europe (UNDOC, 2012).



  • Prostitution has been legal in Italy for over 50 years (since 1958), but not regulated.

  • Most victims are foreigners (in Italy and the rest of Western and Southern Europe)(UNODC, 2020).

  • Central and South-Eastern European victims are less commonly detected when compared to the past. Victims from Sub-Saharan Africa remain a significant share of the victims detected in this subregion (UNODC, 2020).

  • There are as many as 120,000 commercial sexually exploited persons in Italy today. (Associazione Giovanni 23imo, 2016)

  • Italy is reported to have the largest number of identified and presumed victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in all of the EU (Eurostat, 2015)

  • Italy is one of the top ten destination countries in the world for victims of human sex trafficking (CSE) (UNDOC, 2012)

  • Out of all the countries in the world, one study lists Italy as having the third highest percentage of men who purchase commercial sex acts (, 2004).

  • According to estimates from the Italian Interior Ministry and police, 45% of Italian men purchase commercial sex acts at least once a year (Smith, 2003)

  • Italy is one of the main ports of entry for thousands of migrants looking for a better future in Western Europe (Dept. of Equal Opportunity in Italy).

  • 99% of migrant sex workers in Italy have traveled transnationally (TAMPEP, 2009).

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