Victims from Nigeria: Escaping directly into prostitution

Thousands of women from Nigeria come to Europe. They often become victims of criminal gangs, which force them into prostitution. A hub of activity for these enslaved women is Palermo in Italy, where a new kind of mafia is spreading. The “Black Axe”, a brotherhood of the “Black Axes”, has developed as a dangerous mafia gang throughout Europe, but is unrelated to the Italian “Cosa Nostra” mafia. Beginning in Nigeria, the “Black Axe” plans the distribution of girls in other European countries, including Germany. > read more "Wie die Mafia Migrantinnen in die Prostitution treibt" (ARD report Munich, 16 Jan 2017)

The criminal gangs mainly belong to the Edo tribe from the southwest of Nigeria, Edo State, with Benin City as the capital. The Edo have traded within Europe since the eighties. Back then, it was leather goods. Now it's women.

During the last few years, they have expanded their network considerably. The European police office Europol states that Nigerian organized crime is known for trafficking in humans just as the Calabrian mafia is known for cocaine and the Albanian mafia for cannabis.

Nigeria has become the most significant country of origin outside the EU. Nigeria is a very large, poor country. Girls and young women there are lured with false promises. Families send their daughters to Europe, so that they can send money back to help pay for their living expenses.
Often, the oldest of the many children in the family is sent. The women and girls become enslaved through debt bondage and are told they owe horrendous artificial debts, between 25,000 and 40,000 euros, which far exceeds the actual costs of the journey. The exploitive deal is sealed by swearing an oath and participating in a Juju ritual, carried out by a voodoo priest. He gives the woman a magic potion to drink and keeps a strand of her hair, pubic hair or some blood. The girls and women, between 13 and 24 years old, are persuaded that breaking the oath will bring certain disaster to themselves or their families.

Along the entire route, the women are accompanied by Nigerians, who claim to be a relative of the victim at border crossings, but in fact are smugglers. These chaperones are called “boga” and they are in contact with the (female) pimp, called a madame. They make sure that their human cargo actually arrives in Europe.

Minors are instructed to lie about their age upon arrival and told that they will otherwise go to prison. Consequently, they are sent to initial reception centers for adults, which are monitored less intensively. There, intermediaries have easier access to them. The women do not really know what is in store for them. Some have been told that they will work as a hairdresser or shop assistant, but all becomes clear once they meet the madame. The women can move relatively freely and are not monitored daily. The fear of the oath they swore is enough to keep them in line. This lack of monitoring makes investigations difficult. The German Federal Police Agency confirms that the Juju oath, which the women have sworn, allows the perpetrators to instill so much fear and obedience in the women, that they are not willing to reveal themselves as victims of human trafficking. >Read more "Nigerianerinnen werden in Europa zur Prostitution gezwungen" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 Sep 2017)


A team from "Stern" has reconstructed the fate of some young women from Nigeria:
> See article "Menschenhandel von Nigeria nach Europa" 

Human trafficking from Nigeria to Europa (c) Alessio Romenzi

(c) Alessio Romenzi

Human trafficking from Nigeria to Europa (c) Alessio Romenzi