The Princess and the Sex Slave
The journey of one woman, from sex slave to aid worker
Every year thousands of Nigerian women are smuggled into Italy and forced into sexual servitude against their will. Now one former sex slave is working to rescue her fellow victims of human trafficking.
“My goal is to save the victims of trafficking and to let the women get back their right and dignity", explains Princess Inyang. She is the founder of PIAM, a non-profit which monitors the wellbeing of African sex workers and helps those trying to escape their captors. Her desire to help was borne out of her own experiences: like many others, Princess was enticed to Italy with the promise of well-paid jobs and a safer life, but was instead forced by her smugglers into sexual slavery. "It was terrible and dangerous work you know, because most of the time we met people that were bad people", she recalls. One exception was Alberto Mossimo, a client of Princess' who fell in love with her and helped to raise the funds necessary to pay off her debts to the traffickers. Alberto and Princess have now been married for thirteen years, but they are both aware that most girls do not get such a happy ending. The sheer profitability of human trafficking, combined with the reluctance of victims to testify against the Italian and Nigerian mafia gangs that bankroll it, has made sexual slavery very difficult to eradicate on a systemic level. Nonetheless, Princess has already rescued 250 girls and is determined to do more. "I think most of them have things in their mind but they don’t have someone to talk to...I wish we can let them know that we are there to save them."