How the ′Nigerian mafia′ exploits African women in Europe | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW

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Certainly one of Germany’s largest red-light districts is Vulkan Avenue in Duisburg, a northwest German metropolis and former industrial stronghold. A rising variety of Nigerian girls are ending up right here, and Nigerian human traffickers are liable for smuggling in most of them, says Barbara Wellner of Solidarity with Girls in Misery (Solwodi). The group helps victims of human trafficking and compelled prostitution. Wellner says many of those girls are deprived, younger, have obtained “barely any education, and have only a single guardian or no dad and mom.”

Such weak girls typically fall into the palms of traffickers in Africa and get handed alongside a far-reaching community till they ultimately land in Germany. There, they typically find yourself with so-called madams, girls who pimp them out. Earlier than heading to Europe, these girls are advised that their journey will probably be pricey, however that this would possibly not be an issue, since they will make good cash in Europe.

Learn extraContained in the ‘battery cage’: Prostitution in Germany

To put extra stress on the younger girls to pay up as soon as they’re in Europe, a juju spell from the West African magical custom is commonly solid upon them. This will typically be accompanied by ritualistic animal slaughter and the consuming of its blood. The ladies are then forcefully and repeatedly advised that their kinfolk will die or develop into ailing in the event that they fail to repay their debt or inform anybody of this association. As soon as on European soil, these girls typically discover that prostitution underneath the “madams” is the one method for them to earn the cash that they owe.

A poster against human trafficking in Nigeria (DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)

A poster towards human trafficking in Nigeria

Variety of trafficked girls on the rise

In 2018, German police registered 68 girls who have been the victims of Nigerian human traffickers — a major rise on the earlier yr. Nigerian girls made up the most important share of African trafficking victims at 61%. Final yr, 41 suspected Nigerian traffickers have been additionally caught, roughly twice as many as in 2017, in accordance with the Germany’s Federal Prison Police Workplace.

In 2012, Germany joined the EU’s ETUTU venture, which in cooperation with Nigerian authorities goals to crack down on Nigerian criminals trafficking people world wide. A transnational method to preventing these felony is totally important, as most Nigerian girls arrive in Europe by way of Italy.

A brand new ‘Nigerian mafia’

Over the previous three years, over 20,000 Nigerian girls, a lot of them minors, have come to Italy by way of the Mediterranean. The UN estimates that some 80% are victims of human trafficking or are at nice danger of changing into a sufferer.

Helen Okoro was as soon as a sufferer of human traffickers. She arrived in Italy 20 years in the past and nonetheless lives there right this moment. She works for Casa Agata, a Catholic girls’s shelter, within the Sicilian metropolis of Catania. So many ladies ask the shelter for assist that its employees can barely sustain. Okoro has seen human trafficking change over the previous years. She says she is alarmed by how brutal {and professional} human traffickers have develop into.

Helen Okoro (DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)

As soon as a sufferer of human trafficking herself, Okoro now works to assist others in an analogous place

Some Sicilians are beginning to refer a brand new “Nigerian mafia.” But in contrast to the Italian mafia, each perpetrators and victims are from overseas and infrequently stay on the fringes of society. Some Sicilian journalists accuse Italian authorities of not cracking down exhausting sufficient on these trafficking organizations.

Nonetheless, public prosecutor Lina Trovato rejects this accusation. She says authorities have been monitoring the actions of Nigerian organized crime networks for some time. She explains that Nigeria’s so-called “new mafia” will not be a single coherent unit however is as an alternative compromised of quite a few secret societies and felony gangs, resembling the so-called Black Axe, Vikingsor Supreme Eiye Fraternity.

In the kitchen of Casa Agata, women learn how to make pasta (DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)

In Casa Agata, the ladies discover ways to make pasta

Human traffickers unceasingly brutal

In Nigeria, the Nationwide Company for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Individuals (NAPTIP) is out to catch human traffickers, too. Daniel Atokolo, who heads the NAPTIP department within the metropolis Lagos, says the traffickers are more and more brutal. In keeping with Atokolo, efforts to dispel juju superstition amongst West Africans imply the madams in Europe now primarily resort to violence, as an alternative of the psychological stress of spells, to manage the younger girls pressured into prostitution.

Atokolo says that the key societies lively in Europe right this moment, generally known as the Nigerian mafia, “are not out to psychologically situation their victims with magic spells. They now use sheer terror. There’s a clear relationship between the lower in juju spells and the stronger presence of those gangs, who demand whole obedience from their victims.”

Learn extra: How Nigerian ladies are pressured into prostitution in Russia

Boats sit in the harbor of Catania (DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)

Catania, in Sicily, Italy, is the place some Nigerian girls who’ve been trafficked find yourself in search of assist from shelters

European demand problematic

Greater than 50 secret societies now function in Nigeria, with influential lawmakers and businessmen supposedly amongst their members. Little is thought about their organizational construction.

John Omoruan is a former high-ranking Black Axe member. He says he is repented and he regrets his previous actions.

Nonetheless, he accuses Europe of being a big a part of the issue behind human trafficking. Omoruan says it is Europe that wishes cheaper, youthful prostitutes: “On the finish of the day, it is a query of cash. Europe is hungry for prohibited issues like medication, underage prostitutes, all the pieces that is forbidden.” He says Nigerian gangs are merely assembly that demand. “So long as this demand persists, secret teams like Black Axe and others will proceed to achieve success and make a lot of cash.”

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