The International Organization for Migration has said that a high number of women and girls from Ivory Coast are being trafficked to Northern Africa and Europe.
In a note to mark European Anti-Trafficking Day the IOM said there was an emerging trend of a rise in the number of women and girls crossing the Mediterranean.
It said some of the women and girls being trafficked often end up being forced into slavery or prostitution.
Laurence Hart, head of the Mediterranean coordination office said “Many are recruited in their country with the promise of being given employment as maids or waitresses and become, instead, victims of domestic servitude upon arriving in Tunisia or Libya.”
Hart said these women are “subjected to sexual abuse, mistreatment, violence and deprivation of personal freedom”.
Smugglers then take advantage of these women “exploiting them upon their arrival to Italy, or other countries of the European Union”.
In 2015, women and girls trafficked to Europe through north Africa made up just eight percent of the total number of Ivorians who landed at the shores of Italy.
But that number jumped to 46 percent in 2019, according to the IOM.
“Behind the numbers, there are many tragic stories, of which we often know too little,” Hart said.
He adds that “More needs to be done to protect these vulnerable groups, which not only suffer a long series of abuses and human rights violations, but then find themselves forced to risk dying at sea.”