a Nigerian migrant 'caught' in the street after being forced into prostitution. CREDIT: ANSA
a Nigerian migrant 'caught' in the street after being forced into prostitution. CREDIT: ANSA

Seven people have been arrested in Italy on charges of reducing young Nigerian women into slavery. The victims were forced into prostitution using abuse and voodoo rites.

Italian carabinieri police have arrested one Italian and six Nigerians on suspicion of belonging to an organization that brought dozens of young Nigerian women to Italy illegally and forced them into prostitution by means of sexual abuse and threats using black magic in order to repay the 30,000-euro debt contracted for the journey. The suspects are charged with criminal association for human trafficking, purchase and alienation of slaves, illegal immigration, reduction into slavery and exploitation of prostitution.

Investigations began in January 2017 following a report by one of the victims and have uncovered a well-structured and dangerous criminal organization operating in Italy, Nigeria and Libya.

Sex slaves, forced to abort

Investigators found a notebook containing records of the earnings for each woman and the remaining debt. The Italian suspect allegedly had the role of factotum, accompanying the women to the areas where they worked. The women were also made to abort at home using drugs or were beaten if they didn't earn what the organization wanted.

Voodoo rites to bind the women

The women were allegedly recruited in Nigeria on the promise of working in Italy as shop assistants or hairdressers. They were made to undergo black magic rites to bind them to their debt. After crossing the desert in Niger they ended up in camps in Libya where they were exposed to every kind of violence before setting sail for the coast of Italy. The organization had contacts in Libya and managed to corrupt the guards by paying them 5,000 dinars for the women's escape. On reaching their destination the women were handed over to a madam who instructed them in prostitution. Their documents were taken from them and they were also beaten if they refused to work. Investigators say the organization had up to 100 women.

 

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