Several trafficking sentences in Norway and Europe describe how Nigerian women undergo magical rituals were they commit themselves to pay a debt to those who help get them to Europe, less dark forces will maim or kill them and their family members.
Aid lawyer Silje Elisabeth Stenvaag has had tens of prostitute Nigerian women as her clients, amongst some concerning human trafficking trials.
“I think I’ve only met one woman who was not bound by a voodoo oath. It is through such agreements the facilitators manage to keep control of them from a distance”, Stenvaag says.
During a study in Haag, Netherlands 2011; the Norwegian Parliament’s justice committee was introduced to a rather unorthodox method put to use by the Dutch police. They had solicited the services of so-called JuJu, also known as voodoo priests; in order to release the women from the magical spell which bound them to their voodoo-contract.
“As it is a fact that they are being threatened and trafficked through voodoo, this is of course a creative way to approach the victim’s situation. This is something we can learn from, and it may most certainly be worth trying out”, says Jan Bøhler, (AP - Labor Party of Norway) 1st Deputy at the Parliament’s Justice Committee of Norway.
Accompanying that same study was Åse Michaelsen (FRP – Progression Party). Despite generally much disagreement concerning the law against the soliciting of prostitutes, the two political parties agree at this point:
“They have had great success with this in the Netherlands. We must dare to think anew, and to find ways of solving the situation for the Nigerian women. And by that I mean that we need to be more open to using Juju-priests here also”, says Michaelsen.
The two receive support by Jenny Klinge (SP – Senter Party).
“I totally agree that we need to consider this. If it will help more people get out of prostitution, it will be worth it”, says Klinge.
Last year the ROSA project received 146 first-time inquiries from possible victims of human trafficking. Women from Nigeria made out the majority group.Strong influence
“I have great faith in this, if one is able to find the right voodoo-priest. Because in order to get through to these women you need to reverse the voodoo.
It is unbelievable to observe the high level of influence these facilitators have over the women through voodoo”, says Mildrid Mikkelsen, leader for the ROSA project.
But she urges caution.
“Several of the women are also having mental health issues, which they also attribute to the voodoo magic”, says Mikkelsen.
Aid Lawyer Steenvag hopes that the Norwegian Police will dare make use of the method.
“It is proven that we get nowhere by thinking traditionally when it comes to the Nigerian women. I believe it a good idea to make use of voodoo priests”, says Stenvaag.It’s for real
“When even Norwegian Courts emphasize that the voodoo is real for these women, we need to take it seriously in other situations as well”, says Steenvag, who also points out that the Dutch Police force have had great success using voodoo priests during interrogations.
The Police does not dismiss the methods of the Dutch Police force.
“We have spent much time understanding the culture of these women, and none of this is unknown to us”, says Einar Aas, leader for the Section of Organized Crime in Oslo Police District.
Rune Swahn, Deputy Commander of Special Operations (SO), who coordinates the Oslo Police force’s operative work against human trafficking, is well informed concerning the practice of the Dutch Police.
“We do not dismiss that this might be applicable on our part, but we will need to perform a closer study before we can make a final decision”, says Swahn.
And if the Norwegian Police chooses to hire voodoo priests in order to free women from prostitution and to fight the facilitators; they won’t meet much resistance from their own department.
“We need to stay positive to everything that can help get these women out of the situation they currently find themselves in. It is easy to ridicule such things, but this is a real obstacle for many of them. If the operative Police units wants to do this, I shall give them my full support”, says Secretary of State Pål K. Lønseth with the Justice & Emergency department.