At least 26 teenage women have died trying to cross the ocean from Libya to Italy. The way by sea is treacherous and continues to cost many lives, as thousands of people try to enter Europe from Africa. Their bodies were recovered on Sunday by the EU anti-trafficking force Sophia, taken to Italy, where post-mortem tests will be conducted.
According to CNN, the girls who drowned were all between the ages of 14 and 18 and are believed to mostly be from Niger and Nigeria. Women face higher risks when taking this journey than men. This is often due to the fact that mothers try to save their children; and often wear heavier and more restricting clothing than men.
However there are also suspicions that the girls may have been victims of sex trafficking. The post mortem tests will determine exactly what happened to them and why there were only women among the dead.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, over the last year alone just under 3000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to get into Europe, but countless thousands are still attempting the journey. Italy has traditionally been one of the main destinations for migrants, due to the country’s relaxed attitude.
However, this is believed to be changing quickly as public opinion is becoming increasingly cold, which resulted in major gains for anti-immigrant parties in the local elections this year.