Rome - There has been an alarming rise in the number of girls and women trafficked from Nigeria to Italy this year, the International Organization of Migration warned on Friday.
Citing Italian government figures, the IOM said 4,371 Nigerian girls and women had arrived by sea since January.
"Over the past few months we have observed an exponential rise in sea arrivals of African women, mainly from Nigeria," IOM's Federico Soda said in a statement.
Soda said about 80 percent of these women and girls were victims of human trafficking.
He said many of them were from Edo state in southeastern Nigeria, adding: "they are subjected to voodoo ceremonies or rites involving psychological blackmail to convince them that any attempts to flee or to rise up against the traffickers could have repercussions for their families."
IOM called upon Italy to open more reception centres for victims and to quickly draw up a national plan to help trafficking.
NGOs say many of the women are promised non-existent jobs in Europe and then savagely beaten and even raped during the journey to force them into submission and prepare them for the sex trade in Italy and other European countries.