Life within the 400 small
villas once inhabited by the marines from the US base, Sigonella consists not
only of isolation, never-ending waits for hearings with the Commission for
asylum requests or for help with appeals against rejections, imposed idleness,
the absence of external structures and infrastructures and all that we have
come to associate with life inside the Mineo, CARA; it is also prostitution,
abuse and now also abortions.
It has never been understood
why voluntary associations who could establish an important point of reference
for the migrants are denied access. The declarations published in the daily
newspaper La Sicilia by Paolo Ragusa,
president of the consortium which runs the CARA on the possibility of granting
access to the association Penelope are
not justified as the association is about to contradict such claims. Illegal
substances are known to be brought into the centre by the residents themselves
(some of whom have been arrested) and scams have also been uncovered, like that
of the accused Tunisian interpreter.
The fact the abortions are not officially being investigated by the judiciary
but by the Public Prosecution Office of Caltagirone, the responsible office for
that area, confirms that the investigation, within the centre for asylum
seekers, is indeed one of exploitation of prostitution. A recent article
published by Avvenire denouncing a
further case has enabled doctors and volunteers to make a potential link
between the cases of prostitution and the number of abortions.
Already in the first three
months of 2012, out of the 32 abortions carried out in the district of Mineo, 7
have been to migrants. These figures are very high if you consider that the
hospital “Gravina” in Caltagirone serves an area of about 200
thousand people, while the CARA has 1,800 people, less than 600 of whom are women.
The doctors’ accounts are shocking. There is one case of a woman who was
brought to hospital in her 44th week of pregnancy, 2 weeks over a full-term
pregnancy, with the fetus already dead. Another incident saw four women asking
to go to hospital together, all four of them to have abortions. How come?
“Condoms never arrived” was the answer one of employees gave.
Now the Prefecture of Catania
and Laura Boldrini, spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Refugees want
an explanation for the situation and have invited the judiciary to
“clarify” what is going on and carry out an investigation which
includes cooperating with the countries where the women come from, for example
Nigeria. Out of the near 2000 residents at Mineo, there are 57 ethnic groups,
yet less than a third of the residents are women. “Many of the young women
have little choice but to sell themselves,” declares Laura Boldrini,
“Therefore, the authorities and the international community have the duty
to protect them with all possible means.”