The police are investigating a suspected racket through which young African girls are lured from Malta into European sex-slavery rings.

The suspicions were confirmed last Wednesday when a young, attractive Somali girl turned up at the airport to buy a plane ticket to Denmark. When she was arrested for possession of a counterfeit Italian travel document, she could not identify her final destination.

She told police she was given the travel document and offered the ticket money by a co-national in Malta. The woman was told that someone would pick her up at Copenhagen airport. However, she would not name the man or give more details for fear of reprisals.

The Italian passport was a fake copy of a document which Italy issues to asylum seekers who have been processed and been given some form of status.

Police believe her story because it is consistent with others that have surfaced in the past three months or so whereby young African girls have said they are being lured to mainland Europe by the promise of an arranged marriage.

In the past, migrants trying to flee the country illegally were predominantly male, but the number of women making their way out has risen of late. But unlike their male counterparts, the women do not appear to have contacts or plans in the country they would be travelling to.

“The probability is that they would then end up being turned into sex slaves,” one police source said. “We do have some corroborating information from our European contacts but we’re a long way from establishing a link.”

Once there, the girls would end up in a soaring trade of European sex slaves – women who are literally sold by criminal organisations, often for as little as a few hundred euros, to pimps all over Europe and forced into prostitution. The line the local police are following is that the girls are being lured with the promise of an arranged marriage and a better life in northern Europe.

Arranged marriages are the norm for nationals of a number of African countries, especially war-torn Somalia, where millions follow customs that fuse a conservative form of Islam with tribal traditions.

“It is unlikely, especially for Somali girls, that they walk into the sex trade consciously,” one immigrant told The Sunday Times. “Prostitution would be taboo for them, but I have heard about this kind of racket going on... obviously it’s very hush hush.”

The Somali girl was charged in court for trying to leave Malta illegally. During the arraignment, Police Inspector Edel Mary Camilleri told the court the woman had no knowledge of her destination or any family to go to but had been given the false travel document by a man who seemed to be targeting women.

Legal aid lawyer Cedric Mifsud said his client would be pleading guilty and asked Magistrate Antonio Mizzi to take into consideration that she would be helping police with their inquiry. She was jailed for six months, suspended for six months.

(The Sunday Times)

More stories in the News section.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.