In the frames of the COALESCE project, and to mark the EU Anti-Trafficking Day 2022, we are sharing “When Does it End?” written by a victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation, currently supported by partner organisation SOLWODI Deutschland e.V.
In her testimony, she talks about the “oath”, know as the ‘juju’. This oath is taken within a traditional ritual setting in West African countries in order to bind women to their traffickers and make sure that they pay off the debts.
By invoking the argument that bringing women to Europe and taking care of their travel documentation costs a lot of money and that money should be reimbursed with their work, traffickers confiscate women’s documents and sell them for prostitution. The rituals make it clear that failure to pay off those debts will result in terrible things happening to the woman and her family, making it very difficult for women to come forward and denounce their situation when faced with authorities and police, and even counsellors and service providers working directly with these women on the ground.
Lack of culturally sensitive specialist knowledge on the role of ‘juju’ impacts greatly the situation of trafficked women in European countries, as the ritual has an enormous impact on women’s psychological and physical health.