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Human trafficking research demystifies juju practices
2017-10-28



Description: Human trafficking research  Tags: Human trafficking research

Human trafficking is a practice that exists
in many countries all over the world and
whose victims are sold as commodities
into a life of servitude and sex slavery.
Photo: iStock

Human trafficking is a complex crime that transcends cultural, religious and geographical barriers. It is a practice that exists in many countries all over the world and whose victims are sold as commodities into a life of servitude and sex slavery. 

Prof Beatri Kruger, Research Associate at the Free State Centre for Human Rights (FSCHR) at the UFS, has been exploring research related to the use of “juju” rituals used by perpetrators of human trafficking in South Africa and on the African continent. She joined the Centre for Human Rights in 2017, and was previously a law lecturer at the UFS Faculty of Law

She recently co-wrote Exploring juju and human trafficking: towards a demystified perspective and response in the South African Review of Sociology, alongside Marcel van der Watt of the Department of Police Practice at the University of South Africa (Unisa). 

The research explores juju and forms of witchcraft as a phenomenon, while illuminating some of the multilayered complexities associated with its use as a control mechanism. 

Prof Kruger and Van der Watt’s work is a step towards understanding how the practice of juju brings on a more complicated aspect of trafficking in persons in South Africa and how agencies working to combat this crime can understand it and be better equipped to stop the crime and assist victims. 

The findings of the research confirmed the use of juju as a combination of arcane methods used by Nigerian traffickers as a control measure. The term resonates with most participants, but included interchangeable references to witchcraft, voodoo, muti, black magic and curses. The victims of these rituals included women of black, coloured and Nigerian descent in South Africa. 

Nigerian traffickers operating in and between Nigeria, South Africa and European countries are steadily gaining momentum; it will take a concerted effort for multiple countries involved to take steps within their legal frameworks as well as academic spaces to come together to combat the crime cross-continentally.

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