A court in Switzerland has sentenced a Nigerian woman to a four-and-half years imprisonment for trafficking young Nigerian women and girls between 2014-18 and enslaving them as s£x workers using juju threats. Reported on Monday, June 26, 2023, that the mother of three will be deported from Switzerland after completing her sentence.
The 34-year-old woman had brought several young girls from Nigeria, some of whom were still minors, to work as prostitutes in the Lausanne area, the court heard.
The Nigerian woman, who is a former trafficked sex worker, had worked with her partner, who had been sentenced to the same penalty in 2021, and members of her family, who had remained in Nigeria to recruit girls from poor areas.
The victims had travelled to Switzerland via Niger, Libya, the Mediterranean Sea and Italy. Before leaving for Europe, they had been forced to undergo a ritual “juju” ceremony. This voodoo practice involved the casting of a black magic spell and threats that they and their families could be harmed if they disobey.
The influence of “juju” rituals is regularly cited in relation to Nigerian prostitution rings, and several similar cases have already been tried in Lausanne and elsewhere in Europe.
The latest case referred to five sex workers, three of whom had filed a complaint. The court heard how the young women had been housed in various parts of Lausanne and had been forced to work on the streets every night in all weather conditions.
They had to hand over their earnings to the convicted Nigerian woman. If they refused, they were threatened with death, or were beaten or deprived of food.
The presiding judge Pierre Bruttin described the case as “shocking” and “extremely serious”.
The woman, a mother of three young children, was convicted by the Lausanne District Criminal Court under a simplified procedure. She has already been held in prison for over a year, and has admitted the offences.
She was also fined and will be deported from Switzerland after completing her sentence. Her three children are in care in France while the father remains in prison.
This is not the first case of this kind in Switzerland. Public prosecutor Eric Mermoud told the Keystone-SDA news agency that he had previously investigated “six or seven similar cases”
He noted, however, that this is the first time the case had ended in a simplified procedure. The fact that the woman had admitted the facts was “a rare confession” he added.
Nigerian prostitution nonetheless seems to be “diminishing” in Lausanne, added Mermoud. The Vaud capital may have lost some of its appeal to traffickers following recent court rulings, he noted.
Prostitution is a regulated trade in Switzerland, but trafficking, forcing people into prostitution and most forms of pimping are illegal. Sex trafficking cases rarely come to court in Switzerland.