Traffickers intimidated victims with voodoo

Eight people were charged on Wednesday for trafficking and pimping 10 African women, intimidating the victims into prostitution by using means including voodoo.

The 29-year-old woman who is suspected of having run the operation is from Cameroon. She brought the women into Sweden, including a 16-year-old girl from Nigeria.

The presence and exploitation of African women in prostitution in Sweden is highly unusual. This is the largest-ever case exposed in Sweden involving women from the continent.

“She used some religious African ceremonies, curses and voodoo to gain control over the women, all of whom are poorly educated,” said chief prosecutor Krister Petersson of the chamber of the international prosecutor.

“They were then forced into prostitution, first in Malmö and then in Stockholm,” he added.

Petersson submitted the indictment to Stockholm District Court on Wednesday.

When she arrived in Sweden, the 16-year-old girl learned that she owed the 29-year-old woman in charge of the operation €60,000, or nearly 600,000 kronor ($76,150). The debt would be repaid by selling sex to Swedish men.

Even after the debt was repaid, she was forced to continue to pay half of her earnings to the 29-year-old woman, who is now charged for human trafficking. The price for the sexual services varied from 2,000 kronor ($270) to up to 10,000 kronor for an entire night.

Advertisements for the services provided by the women, who were equipped with mobile phones, were placed on the Internet. They then serviced the clients either in an apartment furnished by the 29-year-old or made house calls.

Several of the 29-year-old’s accomplices were also charged with trafficking or aiding and abetting the crime. Others were accused of pimping of varying degrees. They performed functions, such as set up web pages, driving the women to clients or renting out apartments at exorbitant prices as brothels.

The police raided the ring in December. The teenager was then cared for by social services, which arranged for a residence for her. She has since been granted permission to stay in Sweden.

About 20 clients have been identified and either been given orders of summary punishment for crimes against the law against buying sex or will be prosecuted later.

The trial begins next Monday in Stockholm District Court and will continue until November.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain’s top court reinstates first sex workers’ union

Spanish sex workers have the right to form their own union, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, overturning an earlier court decision ordering the dissolution of Spain's first such labour organisation.

Spain's top court reinstates first sex workers' union
Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP

Known as OTRAS (or “the Sex Workers’ Organisation”), the union was discretely set up in August 2018 but was closed three months later by order of the National Court following an appeal by the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

But following an appeal, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of OTRAS, saying that its statutes, which had triggered the initial legal challenge, were “in line with the law” and that sex workers “have the fundamental right to freedom of association and the right to form a union”.

In its November 2018 ruling, the National Court had argued that allowing the union to exist amounted to “recognising the act of procurement as lawful”.


Contacted by AFP, the union did not wish to comment.

When it was founded, OTRAS received the green light from the labour ministry and its statutes were publicly registered in the official gazette the day before the government went into a summer recess.

But three weeks later, the government — which portrays itself as “feminist and in favour of the abolition of prostitution” according to Sanchez’s Twitter feed at the time — started legal moves against it.

In Spain, prostitution is neither legal nor illegal but it is tolerated.

Although it is not recognised as employment, there is a large number of licensed brothels throughout the country.