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Italian Authorities Arrest Nigerian Woman for Human Trafficking Using Juju

Italian police arrested a Nigerian woman for human trafficking using voodoo, coercing young women and girls into prostitution in Italy.



Italian Authorities Arrest Nigerian Woman for Human Trafficking Using Juju

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Italian police have arrested a Nigerian woman on suspicion of human trafficking, alleging she forced young women and girls into prostitution using ‘juju’, a traditional West African religious practice.

The suspect, believed to be the ‘Madame’ of a sex trafficking ring, was arrested in the Puglia province of Foggia on Tuesday, following a joint operation by flying squad police in the Sicilian city of Siracusa and Foggia police. The woman is accused of organising a prostitution ring and recruiting young women in Nigeria to work in Italy as prostitutes by intimidating them through juju rites.

According to police, the women were threatened with death and had their families threatened in Nigeria unless they obeyed the woman’s instructions. Investigators said the young women were deceived and then forced into prostitution using voodoo rituals.

The woman is also accused of forcing her victims to flee detention centers after their arrival in Italy and to work for her under threat. The suspect faces charges of human trafficking, enslavement, aggravated by the fact that some of her alleged victims were minors, as well as threatening their lives and physical integrity by inducing them to travel from Nigeria to Italy through a perilous Mediterranean crossing, under the control of criminals who abused them. She is also accused of contributing to committing a crime organized by a transnational organized criminal group, aiding and abetting illegal immigration, sex trafficking, and money laundering.

The investigation into the woman, who is now in pre-trial custody, was coordinated by DDA anti-mafia investigators in Catania, Sicily, and began after a young Nigerian woman landed at the commercial port of Augusta, Sicily, in July 2016. The woman had travelled from Nigeria to Libya by bus and then crossed the Mediterranean to reach Italy by taking on a debt of €30,000 in “travel expenses”. She told authorities that while she was in detention in Libya, she had learned that she would be forced to work as a prostitute in Italy and had been physically and mentally abused by the men watching her. According to investigative sources, she asked police for help after her arrival in Italy. The suspect is due to appear in court on the charges in the coming weeks.

The use of voodoo or juju to control people and exploit them for prostitution is not uncommon in the West African region. The practice is often used by human traffickers as a way to intimidate victims and ensure their compliance. However, the use of such methods is a clear violation of human rights, and the authorities in Italy have taken a tough stance on the issue.

In recent years, Italy has seen a surge in the number of people arriving on its shores by boat, many of whom are seeking asylum or a better life. However, human traffickers often take advantage of the situation to lure vulnerable people into prostitution or other forms of exploitation. The Italian government has made it a priority to crack down on human trafficking and is working with international partners to bring those responsible to justice.

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