26 Young Nigerian Women Have Been Found Dead In The Mediterranean Sea

The Italian Police are investigating their tragic deaths.

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Yesterday news emerged that 26 young women's bodies were recovered at sea - most of them teenagers. Most of them were aged 14-18.

The BBC reports that Italian prosecutors are investigating these deaths and fear these Nigerian women were sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to reach Italy, from Africa, illegally.

Cantabria, a Spanish warship, brought the 26 bodies to the southern port of Salerno, alongside 375 other migrants (including pregant women and children) after multiple rescue missions.

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Migrants disembark from the Spanish ship 'Cantabria' in the harbour of Salerno, Italy

23 of the female bodies are said to have come from one rubber boat with 64 other people.

Five migrants are being questioned over their deaths.

NPR reports that the police in Salerno believe their cause of death was drowning, meaning they, 'may have been thrown off their rubber dinghy into the water,' and have appealed to neighbouring towns to help them provide a 'dignified burial' for these Nigerian women.

The bodies of Nigerian women in Salerno, Italy

Unfortunately, the Agence France Press has reported that another three [female] bodies have been discovered during other life-saving operations in the Mediterranean this week.'

Italian prosecutors are probing whether their deaths are linked to sex trafficking.

However, the AFP also reports that the Police chief believes that sex traffickers would not have placed this many women they are attempting to traffic in one dingy.

He explained: 'Loading women onto a boat is too risky, the traffickers would not do it as they could lose all their 'goods' — as they describe them — in one fell swoop.'

Migrants disembark from the Spanish ship 'Cantabria' in the harbour of Salerno, Italy

Dr.John DeGarmo, an expert in human trafficking, spoke to Refinery29 about the prevalence of sex trafficking amongst migrants, explaining:

The rate of human trafficking continues to rise in Europe at a staggering rate, and many of these victims are coming from Nigeria. Indeed, in 2016 along, over 11,000 Nigerian women and girls either crossing the African continent or traveling by boat, arrived into Italy, where traffickers are waiting to ensnare and entrap them.

Migrants disembark from the Spanish ship 'Cantabria' in the harbour of Salerno, Italy

He continues:

Many of these victims are fleeing a life of violence and extreme poverty for the promise of a better life style, of a dream of finding success. European nations such as Romania, Italy, and Greece have seen the largest increase in human trafficking. Most of these victims are between the ages of 14 and 18.

The BBC reports that people-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (£4,578) to get to Italy and that migrants repeatedly report violence, torture and sexual abuse by those entrusted with their safe journey.

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