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Social worker Gifty Amponsah, who is originally from Ghana but now lives in Biel, canton Bern, has met with several such women. Amponsah works with Act external link , a Swiss association dedicated to combatting human trafficking and committed to trying to help such women. The association has developed courses aimed at educating social workers, or workers from other organisations who encounter prostitutes, about the specific problem relating to Nigerian women.
Often, it is difficult for western sensibilities to comprehend. Stephan Fuchs, a specialist in Nigerian immigration and founder of the website trafficking. Before travelling, however, the women must swear an oath and promise to repay the cost of the voyage to Europe. During the ceremony a wizard extracts blood, nail clippings and pubic hairs from the young woman and mixes them with herbs.
The wizard then cuts his own skin and places the mixture in the wound. Under the influence of an evil spirit, the victim now has no choice but to submit. As such, the women work around the clock in miserable conditions, threatened and sometimes mistreated by the pimp.
It is a flagrant case of human trafficking. But without resources or prospects, many continue to prostitute themselves, while some become madams themselves using the same ploy to enslave new victims, says Fuchs. Police and social workers sometimes feel helpless. For the same reasons, swissinfo. Fuchs is sceptical when it comes to ways to convince victims that they can trust him without risk; trying to reason with these women is a mission impossible.
The fear of the juju is so intense that some even develop psychological problems. He tells the story of a Nigerian woman who fell to the ground in a fit of convulsions. Taken to hospital, she could not remember anything, but the situation repeated itself several times. Fuchs says informing and educating people in contact with prostitutes through courses is paramount. The phenomenon is most prevalent in countries that are the first port of call for migrants such as Italy, Spain, France or Portugal.