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Save The Children Italy published for the the international day against labor exploitment (30th of July) their 13th report on children exploitation “Piccoli Schiavi Invisibili” (Little invisible slaves). The report highlights the conditions of minors and victims who are at risk of being trafficked and exploited in Italy. The Italian journalist Cecilia Ferrara translated important parts of the report for us. Find more information down below. 

The focus of this year's report is dedicated to boys, girls and adolescents who grow up in areas where the exploitation of their parents makes them victims, from birth, of the violation of their basic rights in a systematic and "normalized" way. It also exposes them to the risk of themselves becoming victims of exploitation and abuse. Specifically, the research was conducted in two of the areas at greatest risk, the province of Latina, in Lazio, and the Ragusa transformed belt in Sicily.

 According to a 2021 estimate, there were around 230,000 irregular workers in the agricultural sector in Italy, with a massive presence of non-resident foreigners and a large number of women involved (55,000). The phenomenon is concentrated where there is more work, as in the case of some strategic districts for the Italian agri-food sector, the provinces of Latina and Ragusa are among these: lands of intensive cultivation, where a strong presence of labor also for the collection and packaging of agricultural products is required.

In the province of Latina, for example, more than half of the surveyed/regular agricultural workers (13,000 out of a total of 20,000), are of foreign origin, mainly Indian, a proportion which is also reflected among the students of some primary schools where this research was carried out and where the lack of adequate linguistic support is a serious obstacle for students, families and teachers.

In the last school year, in Bella Farnia area, for example, cultural mediation alongside teachers was a municipal service. This was limited to 8 hours a month which is too little for girls and boys who have neither full-time nor after-school free, and cannot be accompanied to the study by their parents, who are obligated to work from dawn to late at night in order to survive.

In the province of Ragusa, where farms officially employ 28,274 workers of whom just over 15,000 are Italian and 12,653 of foreign origin, Romanian and Tunisian in particular, social exclusion is rooted from birth. 

In the area between Acate and Ispida, when both parents work, the absence of nearby kindergartens and preschools, combined with the lack of means to reach those in the nearest town, force the little ones to undergo extreme expedients, like being alone locked up at home or following mom and dad to work. Sometimes they get locked up in the car for hours, waiting for parents to finish their work.

If there are older siblings, they are the ones to look after the younger ones, in a spiral of isolation and extreme marginalization that affects both, and which in the most serious cases can lead to school dropout as early as 12/13 years, also due to the absence of municipal school buses, active only for primary and lower secondary school.

In some cases,school is skipped because of direct involvement of minors in labor exploitation, starting from the age of 12-13. They get wages that are around 20-30 euros per day. It can be a full-time job or, more often, limited to the daily or summer extra-curricular time, or a commitment that can start as early as 10 years old to "give a hand" during the harvesting period.

Read the full report from Save the Children here (Language: Italian). 

Cecilia Ferrara
Cecilia Ferrara
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