Three members of an international prostitution ring have been convicted for smuggling a Nigerian woman into the UK and threatening her with a voodoo curse. Paralysing her with fear, they then forced her to work as a sex slave.
The men conned her into flying to Heathrow with a fake passport, by promising her an education, a job and a new home. Before leaving her family in Nigeria, she was raped and made to endure a juju death ritual (black magic), which prevented her from running away and terrified her into silence.
Juju is a significant part of West African culture, and involves a manipulation of spiritual powers. It has the ability to spark deep fear within people, because of the harm they believe is could potentially cause.
When the Nigerian girl finally arrived in London, the job and promises she had been made never came, which was when she said she realised she was brought to be a sex slave. The 15-year-old claimed she was ordered to sell her body and was raped by up to four men a day at a house in Dagenham, Essex. She told of how she was slashed with a razor and whipped with a cable if she refused.
Also this month, Spanish police stated they too had broken up a voodoo prostitution ring. They said they had arrested five men, and one woman suspected to be the ringleader, who tortured women and frightened them with curses to keep them silent
and stop them trying to escape. These women were also taken from Nigeria and transported. They were all vulnerable women who were struggling to raise children because of the death of a father or husband.
Police made a statement that read: “The control exercised over women was total, involving verbal threats as well as physical violence and various voodoo ceremonies to terrorise them… The ring caused them serious injury through bites or by using an iron to cause second-degree burns.’ Often the victims are taken to shrines and told to leave behind personal items. They are told this gives the voodoo priests power to inflict harm upon their families or themselves.