Finding a Voice: From Africa to Europe, the Effect of Voodoo Secrecy Oath Sworn by Victims

Ochuko Joy Agbeyegbe, LLB, BL, LLM | September 20 | 4:00-5:00 PM | Room 2584

Topic: International | Knowledge Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is a menace that has eaten deep into today’s world. Day by day, victims are being trafficked across borders, seas and deserts from Africa to Europe, by traffickers for exploitation.  These victims could be anyone: a relative, a friend, someone else we know, or there might even come a day might where we find ourselves as the victim…who knows? There is a need for the voices of the victims to be heard, which this presentation aims to provide. One huge factor that has silenced the voice of several victims from Africa is the voodoo secrecy oath usually sworn to by girls in Nigeria and Africa before being trafficked to Europe. The voodoo secrecy oath forbids the victim from ever reporting or giving any information to the police about their traffickers. Voodoo has been used as a powerful tool to enslave women for sexual exploitation (García 2013). Do people really believe in voodoo? Why is voodoo so powerful in West Africa? Is it real or its mere fiction? While most Africans believe in the power of juju/voodoo, others do not and only see it as a tool used by traffickers to scare their victims. With her individual personal experience in the anti-human trafficking struggle, Joy has been

privileged to come in contact with victims who have either taken an oath or had their hair and fingernails cut off by their traffickers for voodoo. Joy gathered data on this topic through conducting interviews with victims who experienced this. This presentation will cover the mechanisms that can be used to help victims find a voice regardless of the oath of secrecy previously sworn to.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Explain the meaning of voodoo in the African context.

·  Analyze the procedure for voodoo secrecy oath taking in Africa.

·  Outline the role of voodoo priests in oath taking and human trafficking.

·  Explore the role of voodoo in silencing the voice of victims.

·  Discuss how to best help voodoo secrecy oath victims find a voice.

About the Presenter