People buy and kill for a few thousand euros in Sub-Saharan Africa, where girls become slaves through voodoo rituals – along with many other cruelties – as documented by an investigation that recently landed 47 people in jail. A conversation that was wire-tapped during the investigation revealed that a woman barely out of childhood was reportedly forced to “eat a rooster’s heart” and “sleep with many men.”
The woman is Angela Amelkhieana, who arrived in Italy by airplane from Nigeria. Her family owed 10 thousand euros to a fellow Nigerian who had made an advanced payment for her to come to Italy. “Even though they had promised she would work as a hairdresser, once she arrived in Italy her documents were taken away she was told that she would have had to become a prostitute to pay off her debt.”
To force her to sell her body “she was initially raped,” and then she was sent out on the via Pontina (a road south of Rome where prostitutes ply their trade) and there beatings and threats convinced her to do her job. “After she paid back 5 of the 50 thousand euros that were being demanded to redeem her freedom, she managed to flee,” but her jailors made sure their warnings, which included threats to her family in Nigeria, reached her.
They were not idle threats. In just a few weeks, “nine men, including the brother of her Madame, all members of the organization that had brought her to Italy” assaulted and killed Angela’s father, Paul, in Nigeria. Still not satisfied, the following month they “set fire to the sweets cart belonging to the woman’s mother, Anna, causing her to fall ill and consequently die.”
Angela therefore caved in and unwillingly became the ‘controller’ of other girls; that is the prostitute who, on behalf of the Madame, makes sure that all the girls are well behaved when on the streets.
The street life is a violent one. Kingsley Aghasagbon – one of the men who were arrested – was called by a woman who told him that her “body was full of wounds” after she “tried to flee a police patrol.” She told the man that her workplace – the street where she worked, that is - would now be changed.
Aghasagbon is a businessman. His girlfriend, Anita Omoruyi, is in business with him. In a taped conversation between the two, he describes a woman as if she were soul-less. Her name is Igwesha, but she is also known as Sharon. She was apparently purchased from her family for 6 thousand euros, but Aghasagbon complained that she had yielded less than one thousand euros in ten months. In another phone call, he was reprimanded by his mother, who told him: “that money? It would have been enough to buy a piece of land.” Note that this was not a reproach - a note of honesty in response to her son’s troubles and evil-doings. Instead it was an attempt to spur him to do more, to do worse, with an additional terrible intent: “when I find out where the girl’s parents live I will harass them forever,” exclaimed the woman, who then asked her son to get her their address as soon as possible.
Aghasagbon got on the phone to Nigeria. On the other side of the line was a fellow, maybe a shaman, who believed he’d be “able to deal with Igwesha by threatening her with voodoo rituals if she didn’t go back to her Madam, and work for her until she had repaid her debt.” Igwesha had found refuge in a safehouse in Foggia, and – as revealed by a conversation recorded by the investigators – she didn’t want to leave.
Nigerian gang-members assured the bosses in Rome that they “would call her father; he’s the one who brought her to the place where she swore in front of a voodoo temple.” They told Igwesha that the spirits awoken during the ritual would “haunt her forever.” They also told her that her father ran the risk of being kidnapped. The investigators recorded the young woman’s desperation and her screams on the phone.
The cruelty of the organization is further confirmed when the girls get pregnant. One of the women who led the Nigerian clan that was routed by the police forces criticized a girl: “why didn’t you tell me that a condom broke while you were working?” The argument culminated in a warning for the poor African girl, who was by then pregnant. She was ordered to continue working on the streets because the woman “didn’t have money to help” her. But the girl wasn’t able to keep working, she felt ill and was vomiting. So the Madam told her that she would not give her a cent of the 800 euros, “including travel and food,” that were needed for to be taken to “a man who lives in Naples” to have an abortion.
Pamela and Sandra, two other young prostitutes, complained in the police wire-taps about the food rations that they were being given: “we are tired of eating yam and rice.” To convince the jailors to give them more food, Sandra told one of them: “can you see how thin my neck is? My white man asks me why.”
June 23, 2014