This has apparently been going on for quite a while – in one article, one man has been participating in the practice for 15 years – that women from Nigeria are being brought to Europe for the purpose of working as prostitutes, duped into believing they will make enough money to deliver themselves and their loved ones from poverty, and bound to the process by oaths made during Juju rituals. The first article I’m linking to, an article from The Independent, titled, “The curse of ‘juju’ that drives sex slaves to Europe,” was published in 2011. The second article, from Daily Mail, titled, “Women being smuggled into Britain as sex slaves by trafficking rings under threat of black magic,” was published in 2014. I chose these two articles mainly because of the three year span in their publication, suggesting that while the authorities are aware of the problem, and are trying to act to stop it, it is an ongoing problem. I would also like to point out a few minor points I consider to be flaws in the reporting: one, it’s my understanding that Juju and Vodun (Voodoo) are not related forms of beliefs; second, witchcraft and witch doctors are not to be confused with one another – in fact, it was once the job of the witch doctor to undo a curse brought about by a witch or ‘devil,’ this appellation was coined in England, and was not originally aimed at practitioners of African traditional religions; and third, not everyone following the beliefs in Juju is following a path of ‘black magic,’ there are beneficial and positive beliefs in this traditional system that should not be overlooked for the sake of sensationalism.
Something I find striking about these reports is that the majority of the women seem to come from Nigeria, a country that is almost neatly divided by Christian and Muslim beliefs. I found this striking because I wondered why there weren’t members of the clergy from these faith systems more visibly active in working against this practice from their own home country. The question I have turning over in my mind, though, is why there are not more members of the various Pagan clergies offering services to help the women who are rescued from this ugly system, here in Europe?
If these women feel so tightly controlled and bound to Juju rituals in a country where the monotheists are so prevalent, perhaps they might benefit from witches or druids getting involved. Someone acting on our own turf, so to speak, with the gods and spirits of our lands close to our hearts and souls to shelter the victims spiritually and perhaps ease some of the extreme psychological stress these women undoubtedly endure through the course of their enslavement and rescue. I’m aware that the Pagans of Europe and believers in Juju are not necessarily one and the same; but it seems to me that if I were to find myself in a foreign land, full of strangers, a friendly local with a good line to the local spirits is something that might set me more at ease. If this person had a background in psychotherapy, I would estimate the chances of relief increasing.
This, then, is something I would like to look into more closely on my own. I can imagine that the different countries in Europe have their own ways of bringing these women out of harm’s way, just as the different countries in Europe have their own notions regarding the validity of Pagan beliefs and practices. The various articles I read concerning this did not just cover a significant span of time, but also a significant span of countries within the EU. I figure the least one can do is be concerned, educate one’s self further, then see if there is a practical way to get involved. I also realize that this might be something where my gender might serve as a barrier – my guess is that men are not going to be so easily trusted, when it is mostly men who are perpetuating this system. But if all I can do is learn more about what can be done, then spread the word so that perhaps more women might get involved, then I will at least have done something.