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The nine-mile 15km road has historically been a place of sex work and has recently seen a massive increase in the number of Nigerian women working alongside it — some of whom have been trafficked into the country and forced into prostitution. Since the fall of Gaddafi in Libya and the subsequent massive increase of African women coming into Europe via Italy , the authorities are struggling to contain the situation and the locals are becoming less tolerant of it.
The women are beaten by their madams if they refuse to work. On the Road is the name of a charity that has been working to help the sex workers for the last 20 years.
Half the road is now worked by Nigerian women and there are up to women at any time there. The charity has found that it is now on the frontline of people trafficking and is often dealing with underage girls. The film follows one of the women who works for On the Road, a Nigerian former prostitute called Jessica who now works as a cultural mediator for the charity. Exploring all sides of this beach resort, speaking to residents and visitors, the film lifts the lid on a dark situation that is often ignored, but one that is having a huge impact locally and is unlikely to change any time soon.
This documentary is commissioned as part of the Guardian Bertha documentary partnership, which aims to tell international stories with global impact. Piers Sanderson is an award-winning director and cameraman who has been making international documentaries for over 10 years.
He embedded himself for four months with the work of the On the Road charity on the frontline of sexual trafficking in Europe and gained the trust of the social workers and the women with whom they work with the aim of making a film that went deeper than the short reports he had seen elsewhere.