Undercovered: A Sex Trade Where Slaves Are Controlled in Part by Magic

shutterstock_368530628Undercovered is our daily feature bringing attention to women’s issues worldwide, which we feel deserve a larger audience.

A trans-Mediterranean network that traffics in sex slaves controls the kidnapped women, in part, by using the fear of black magic.

Tom Esslemont reports on the violent trade that has brought over 12,000 women from Nigeria to Italy over the past two years. Describing the experience of one Nigerian teenager, named Beauty (a pseudonym), he writes:

Before her journey through Niger to Libya, a spiritual priest practicing a form of black magic known in Nigeria as “juju” had forced her to swear an oath of obedience to her trafficker.

The threat of a “curse” if she broke her oath and the possibility of violence by her traffickers at home in Benin City, a southern Nigerian hub for human trafficking, were enough to trap her into sex slavery.

“If I had reported him to the police, my family would have been in great danger,” said Beauty, 19, fiddling with black-and-blond braids as she recalled the events of last summer.

You can read the complete report at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

[image: Suprun Vitaly via]

Undercovered is a daily feature from Mediaite, bringing attention to stories about women’s issues that warrant more attention. Go through the Undercovered archives here. If you have an idea or a tip, please email us at

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