On the severe labour exploitation of migrant women in Italy: a human rights and multi-level policy perspective


In recent years, women have become the main protagonists of migratory flow and the percentage of migrant women is growing at a global, European, and Italian scale. In Italy, migrant women take up professions that are considered ‘female’ work and during the migratory path they must face challenges related to them being women, workers, and migrants. Women migrant workers in Italy, especially those with irregular status, are often exposed to severe labour exploitation, a phenomenon that is not isolated or marginal, but which often lacks exposure. This article aims to provide food for thought on the reasons why this complex phenomenon remains invisible, highlighting the causes related to the Italian political, economic, and social system and those linked to migrant women subjected to severe labour exploitation. Despite the absence of a uniform supranational legal framework regulating severe labour exploitation, the author identifies several international, Council of Europe and European law instruments that relate to this issue. What emerges is that there is a difficulty in applying these rules and that there is inadequate or partial transposition from supranational levels to the Italian national and local levels. Therefore, many treaties, conventions and laws lack application and effectiveness. Lastly, the article proposes new perspectives to counter the phenomenon of severe labour exploitation of migrant women in Italy through the implementation of concerted actions including the strengthening of the legal framework to protect the rights of migrant workers, the adoption of a comprehensive approach with long, medium and short term objectives and the intensification of the multi-agency approach already in force. A reflection on the possible impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the severe exploitation of migrant women workers is offered.

Crippa E. (2020) "On the severe labour exploitation of migrant women in Italy: a human rights and multi-level policy perspective " Peace Human Rights Governance, 4(3), 311-347. DOI: 10.14658/PUPJ-PHRG-2020-3-2  
Year of Publication
Peace Human Rights Governance
Issue Number
Start Page
Last Page
Date Published
ISSN Number
Serial Article Number