Italian police have disclosed that seven individuals who lured Nigerian women to Italy “with voodoo rituals” and then forced them to engage in prostitution have been arrested in Nuoro, Sardinia.
In a statement released on Thursday, police said the traffickers were alleged of performing voodoo rituals on the women to make them swear to refund the cost of the trip to Europe, while warning victims that their relatives would die if they did not.
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“Once in Italy, criminals would help the women escape from migrant centres and take them to the north-western city of Turin, where they would be told that prostitution was the only way in which they could repay their debt.
“Some women were asked to pay as much as 30,000 euros (35,200 dollars),’’ the police said.
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The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on July 22, issued a report stating that three-quarters of the approximately 11,000 Nigerian women who landed in Italy in 2016 may have been taken there by sex traffickers.
The IOM, a UN agency, disclosed how difficult it was to make precise estimates because a large number of victims of the sex trade are frightened to speak up and seek assistance because of shame, submission to traffickers accompanying them on migrant boat, or fear of retaliation against their relatives.
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In another incident in the Nuoro area, a local migrant centre was attacked overnight by a powerful improvised bomb that destroyed one of its side entrances.
Two of the 64 migrants hosted there reported light injuries to their legs.