Witchcraft and human trafficking seminar in London

On the 25th of November AFRUCA – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse hosted a witchcraft and trafficking seminar in central London. The purpose of the seminar was to bring people working on issues related to witchcraft together to discuss challenges and find solutions to the problem.

The seminar was very well attended by Child Rights Practitioners, Policy Makers, Immigration and Borders officials, The Police, NGOs and international Organizations.

The aim of the seminar was to discuss how practitioners can better understand the needs of trafficking victims who are under the spell of Juju and witchcraft and how to intervene successfully and provide support to the wictims that are subjected to witchcraft accusations:

The seminar focused on exploring :
• The role of juju in the growth of human trafficking
• The link between the trafficking of African Women and Children and the use of Juju rituals as a method of coercion and submission
• The role of juju rituals in hindering victim support and in the prosecution of suspected traffickers
• How to empower victims of trafficking to overcome their fears of juju.

Traditional belief in witchcraft and juju rituals is strong in Africa and traffickers are known to employ it to coerce and subjugate their victims. Many victims of human trafficking are made to take oaths of allegiance, secrecy and confidentiality to bind them to their traffickers, ensure compliance and guarantee the repayment of the huge sums of money claimed to be owed for transporting the victims to Europe and for their upkeep. Many victims, fearful of the repercussions of the oath taken are compelled to endure their suffering in silence without recourse to help and support. The fear of Juju makes it extremely difficult for agencies to support victims and for the authorities to investigate, prosecute and bring suspected traffickers to justice.

The speakers present at the seminar were:
• Mr. Andy Desmond, Detective Constable, New Scotland Yard Human Trafficking Team: Witchcraft and juju as barriers to effective prosecution of traffickers. Our experience at New Scotland Yard
• Ms. Debbie Ariyo, Founder and Director of AFRUCA: The Impact of Witchcraft Abuse on Victims of Trafficking in the UK
• Dr. Esohe Aghatise, UN Expert on Trafficking and Director of Associazione Iroko Onlus, Italy: Working with Victims of Trafficking in Italy: Addressing Juju as a hindrance to Safeguarding Victims
• Mr. Godwin E. Morka, Head of Lagos Zonal Office, NAPTIP Nigeria: Addressing Human Trafficking at Source: Countering the power of Juju on Victims – Our Experience at NAPTIP Nigeria

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