Presseaussendung FREE ME, Vienna, 13.3.2018
Monarch of kingdom of Benin revokes all Juju-Oaths of human trafficking victims in Europe worth Billions of Euro.
In a never seen ceremony the OBA of Benin, Ruler and spiritual leader of the Kingdom of Benin (a part of Nigeria) revoked all Juju oaths, that were used by human traffickers to force young women into prostitution in Europe.
In his palace in Benin City he assembled all Edo State chiefs, women leaders and other spiritual leader from Edo state. Together they performed a huge ritual, to revoke existing oaths and to prevent future victims.
They put a curse on everyone involved in human trafficking that should stop them to continue their treacherous acting against young women of Edo State.
Only few Europeans are aware that almost 90% of all african women exploited in the sex industry in Europe are from just one small region in Nigeria with a few million inhabitants – around Benin City in Edo state.
Another peculiarity of human trafficking in Nigeria is, that victims need to take part in a juju-ritual, where a local Voodoo priest is taking blood, pubic hair, fingernails from the victims and they have to take an oath – the so called “Oath of Secrecy”. Breaking this oath threatens them and their families with death, madness and misfortune, in case they would not pay their traffickers in full or speak to the authorities. Even when the majority of people in Edo State are Christians, Juju Religion has a strong meaning still in the region. So this Oath is an important means against the victims, which is used to create psychological pressure not just to them, but also to their families in Nigeria, who then influence the women to comply with their tormentors.
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II. did speak up against human trafficking before and there were demands of different organisations – including FREE ME- to use his spiritual power to revoke the oaths. Last week he assembled in his palace chiefs from Edo State, female leaders and other spiritual leaders to perform together with them a ritual, which revokes the exisiting oaths of women in Europe and where a curse was put an all human traffickers and “naitive doctors”, who would use the “Oath of Secrecy” to bind women and send them into sex slavery.
The traditional palace juju – the “Ososomaye of Great Benin” was brought out the first time after 400 years into the sun, to perform the ritual.
The Oba declared that all exiting debts are cancelled and won`t need to be paid. He demanded from his people that they should support the young women of Edo State, prohibit Exploitation and human trafficking and stand up against those, who make this a “business”.
FREE ME estimates the “debts” of women from Nigeria lured to Europe by false promises and lies and forced into prostitution to be at least 4 Billion Euro. The women need to pay between 25.000 to 75.000 Euro for their transport (mostly through the desert and the mediterrenean sea) depending on their final destination. They are forced to work as prostitutes until they have paid off this debt.
The news of the Oba was shared rapidly within social media amongst Nigerian women in Europe and lead to various reactions. Tears of joy and exclamation of “freedeom”…, but also scepticism and fear – and threats from the “madames” (a sort of female pimps and a key role in the human trafficking system) who want to keep their claims and declare the Oba`s ritual as not valid.
FREE ME congratulates the OBA of Benin to his courageous and important action in the fight against human trafficking. He did prove that he is a worthy ruler of his people, who has the people`s interest in mind and stands for a positive development of society in Edo State. Even knowing that he will upset powerful entities in Nigeria who see human trafficking and sexual exploitation as a sort economic activity.
But FREE ME is aware, that this action alone does not mean the end of human trafficking in Nigeria. And it is not the end of the suffering of victims here in Europe.
Juju rituals are by far not the only means of pressure, ruthless traffickers use to bind and exploit their victims. Physical violence, threats to children and relatives, drugs serve in the rest of the world as tools in this business. We fear that this other means will now be used more often against African women in Europe.
FREE ME demands European goverments to act – escpecially Austria
Now an important political demand of FREE ME becomes even more important: We need useful activities to protect victims of human trafficking and we need to fulfil the European Charta against Human Trafficking.
National strategy papers to follow this European guideline are often not more than lip service. Victims of Human trafficking are often not recognised or taken serious. (an actual example from the co-founder of FREE ME: Her claim of being a victim of human trafficking in her asylum request in Austria was simply ignored – and she pushed back to Italy, from where she has fled to escape her traffickers. A clear breach of the EU Charta and an internal guideline of the Austrian ministry of Internal affairs).
The biggest problem to fight human traffickers in Europe is, that the victims are often more afraid of the authorities than of their tormentors. An understandable fear, if the focus of authorities is to put the traffickers in jail – but the victims have risk of getting deported after the trial and a horrible faith after that. In Nigeria they will not be accepted by the society and are without protection. Their traffickers still want their money and the just force them into the cycle of sexual exploitation again.
Sensible political action is called for, because this “trade” with young women is the financial engine behind the refugee problem around the so called “Mediterranean route”, which captures so much attention in the public (our chancellor also mentions it occasionally).
Only when we stop the money behind this system, we might close the route. To do this – we need to help young African women to stop paying the price for this systems, with their bodies as slaves in the European sex industry. We should follow the example of Italy, that gives solid humanitarian protection to all victims of human trafficking that co-operate with the authorities (article 18 italien anti-trafficking law) and offers them integration programs into the society.