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An S&D delegation* dealing with women’s rights and gender equality issues will be in Ragusa (Sicily) from 29 June to 1 July to evaluate the current working conditions of  women in rural areas, in particular those from Romania.

The S&D delegation will meet representatives of civil-society and human-rights organisations, victims of abusive practices, local and regional authorities and other stakeholders in the field of women’s rights and the prevention of trafficking.

Ahead of the visit, S&D Group spokesperson on women’s rights and gender equality Iratxe García Perez MEP said:

“We have been alarmed by cases of labour and sexual exploitation, in particular of Romanian women working on farms in Ragusa. Romanian women in Ragusa represent the largest group working in agriculture in the region. A lot of them have suffered inhuman working and living conditions. Many of them have been sexually abused. Some had to go through unwanted pregnancies. Profits are made from exploitation.

“Since then, the Romanian and Italian authorities have agreed to co-operate. Italian officials have also set up a support and assistance centre for victims and people vulnerable to trafficking. We want to visit this particular region to evaluate the added value the EU can offer to prevent human trafficking and to ensure the women who are victims receive adequate protection.

“Clearly, there is a need for more financial and human resources to be allocated to the implementation of the directive to fight against tracking for labour and sexual exploitation, as well as for the protection of victims. The EU will also make huge progress by ratifying the Istanbul convention on preventing and combating violence against women. S&Ds call on member states to ensure these are considered as top priorities.

"We also need to address the issue of safe and legal abortion since more than 90% of health practitioners in Sicily refuse to provide services due to conscientious objection.”

The S&D Group delegation includes:

Iratxe García Perez (Spain)
Viorica Dăncilă (Head of the S&D Group's Romanian Socialist delegation)
Marie Arena (Belgium)
Edouard Martin (France)
Michela Giuffrida (Italy)

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