Six Tunisians have been accused of kidnapping a Belgian woman in Italy and subjecting her to sexual slavery.
Local media report that the horror story unfolded in the winter of 2017, when the 32-year-old victim, who lives in the seaside resort of Sanremo on the Italian Riviera, approached her alleged tormentors on the street to buy drugs.
The men, who are said to be aged between 23 and 50, then abducted her and took her to a home where she was tied to a bed with ropes. She had a "guard" who made sure she could not escape from her molesters, who took turns raping her. The victim says that her kidnappers figured she could become a source of income and invited "clients" to the house to rape her for a fee.
This captivity lasted for nearly two months, she told prosecutors, before she was able to escape her prison. A Belgian media outlet reports that it was her tormentors who let her go.
Italian police are now investigating the claims; the six suspects have been arrested and charged with kidnapping, sexual abuse, and aiding and abetting prostitution.
Four undocumented immigrants from Senegal, Gambia and Nigeria were arrested in another harrowing case in October in connection with the death of a 16-year-old Italian girl in Rome. Prosecutors found that she had approached the men to buy drugs, and died from a drug overdose the same night, after they gang-raped her.
The case made headlines in Italy and fuelled public debate on immigrant-related crime, and triggered protests against Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi numbering in the thousands.
Europe has seen a wave of sex attacks amid the migrant crisis that first plagued the EU in 2015, when the EU's open-door refugee policy, spearheaded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, paved the way for hundreds of thousands of migrants from Northern Africa and Middle East to enter the bloc.
Italy has been on the front lines of the crisis; it is believed that over 600,000 migrants have reached the country by boat from Africa since 2015. Matteo Salvini, Italy's Interior Minister and the leader of the League party, has adopted a hard-line stance on immigration and challenged the EU's previously migrant-friendly policy. Last year, he closed Italian ports to NGO ships that rescue refugees at sea and issued a decree that suspended the asylum process for persons considered to be "socially dangerous".