Bologna, 27 March 2009. A Conference entitled “Trafficking in people from Nigeria, magic-religious rituals and integration difficulties” will be held in Bologna on the 27 of March.
UNICRI, in cooperation with the NGO “Oltre la Strada” and the Emilia Romagna Region, will host the event. It will be an important occasion to develop an almost unknown theme, which is pivotal in understanding the human trafficking dynamics in the Nigerian context.
The United Nations estimates the presence of 2,7 millions victims of trafficking in human beings around the world, of which 80% are women and children. It represents a real business, bringing to international organized crime groups a turnover of about 32 billion dollars per year – thus comparable to trafficking in weapons or in illicit drugs.
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon, which is hardly measurable, and consequently hardly contrastable. The 66% of victims, on a global basis, are women who are mainly sold for sexual exploitation.
According to official data, in Italy 54.559 victims of trafficking received assistance and protection between 2000 and 2007. Nigeria and Romania are the primary countries of origin, but a rather significant flow also originates from Moldova, Albania, Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria. The National Antimafia Department estimates that about 1000 people have been tried between 2003 and 2007. Of these, the majority are Romanian (217 people) and Italians (203 people), followed by Albanians (176 people) and Nigerians (144 people). Victims are often Nigerian women suffering from psychiatric problems, who went through an experience of exploitation that started from a voodoo ritual.
Voodoo rituals follow precise phases, during which the victim’s family (which is frequently involved) pawns her house and her properties through a contract. The voodoo ritual is usually meant to ensure the woman a safe journey abroad and enough fortune once she reaches Europe. If the victim does not respect the conditions imposed, she compromises the properties and the safety of herself and of her family. Therefore, rituals strongly condition young victims, who are forced to work in prostitution and are subjected to violence. The Conference will focus on the link between human trafficking and voodoo rituals from a psychological and legal perspective, but also from an operational point of view in terms of counter-actions.
Chiara Venier, Expert from the General Department for the Cooperation to Development of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with Angela Patrignani, Head of the UNICRI Human Trafficking and Emerging Crimes Unit, will open the Conference. Among the speakers: Rosanna Paradiso, Responsible for the TAMPEP Association; Michele Scapino, Consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Director of the Olami Damanhur University and of the CONACREIS Olistic School; Leonardo Montecchi, psychiatrist at the Sert in Rimini; Antonietta Confalonieri from the Perugia Tribunal, Professor of Compared Criminal Procedure at the Urbino University, Coordinator of the Umbria Section of the Forensic Union for the Human Rights; Roberto della Rocca, Deputy Vice-Questor of the State Police, Responsible Official for the section “Countering widespread, foreign criminality, and prostitution” of the Squadra Mobile at the Questura of Venezia.
According to UNICRI’s Director “Today we are facing increasingly articulated and complex criminal phenomena. The seminars scheduled in the framework of this project will allow us to shed some light on a phenomenon which is too often approached without actual knowledge, but with too many stereotypes. The violence suffered by these young women is, first of all, psychological: every action taken against trafficking in human beings must include the psychological support to victims. Understanding the trauma they suffered means being able to contrast the criminal groups which deal with the human trafficking, and reducing the impact of instruments such as voodoo rituals”.