PALERMO – The Italian market for sushi has surged over the last decade and is now one of its most popular foreign cuisines. Sicily – which like many regions of Italy is fiercely proud of its regional food culture – has nevertheless seen a recent food revolution with sushi restaurants and poke bowl joints appearing across its cities, helped along by the lockdown surge in delivery culture, and the popularity of apps such as Glovo, UberEats and Deliveroo. 

However, in stark contrast to its cool, sophisticated image, a dark world of exploitation lurks behind the scenes of this new trend. Business owners often employ young migrants, including trafficked Bangladeshis, as kitchen porters, cleaners and chefs, for little pay and no worker protection or minimum wage, profiting from their desperation to remit money home to help their families. 
Squeezed between low-pay and remitting money home they are forced to live in squalid conditions in cramped apartments and they make wages lower than a Sicilian would accept, earning about 700 Euros a month. They also have to contend with criminal networks that want to profit from their hard work and desperation.  

The aim of this investigation is to shine a light on the exploitation of young Bangladeshi migrants in the Italian food industry and to examine how the remittances they toil so hard to send back home end up straight in the hands of traffickers. 

© Kate Stanworth

Team members

Ismail Einashe

Ismail Einashe is an award-winning journalist and writer who has written for BBC News, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Sunday Times and The Nation, among many others.

Ismail Einashe

Muhammad Owasim Uddin Bhuyan

Muhammad Owasim Uddin Bhuyan is an award-winning journalist. His works focused on Migration, Domestic Work, Human Trafficking Issues in Bangladesh. 

Muhammad Owasim Uddin Bhuyan

Kate Stanworth

Kate Stanworth is an award-winning photographer based in London. Her work explores stories of human resilience, identity, and the search for belonging


Pramod Acharya

Pramod Acharya is a freelance journalist based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Pramod Acharya
€10.625 allocated on 03/10/2022



  • El largo viaje de los migrantes bangladeshíes a Europa: "Experimentar Libia fue terrible" - El Mundo, 20/02/2023. 

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