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‘Madame Sandra’ used voodoo scare tactics against prostitutes she trafficked

Josephine Iyamu’s use of “Juju” oath-taking ceremonies to frighten trafficked prostitutes into handing over cash involved women being beaten with a chicken on their backs and chests.Details of the voodoo scare tactics emerged in January last year after German police arrested a sex worker in possession of a stolen French passport.The Nigerian woman, who wanted …

Josephine Iyamu’s use of “Juju” oath-taking ceremonies to frighten trafficked prostitutes into handing over cash involved women being beaten with a chicken on their backs and chests.

Details of the voodoo scare tactics emerged in January last year after German police arrested a sex worker in possession of a stolen French passport.

The Nigerian woman, who wanted to earn money to feed and support her family, told police she and two other women were forced to take oaths before being trafficked to Germany.

Iyamu, who referred to herself as Madame Sandra, met the women and introduced them to a Juju priest, who carried out rituals at a “shrine” to take apparent control of their spirits.

One of the victims said the oath-taking ceremony saw them told that if they betrayed Madame Sandra the juju would impregnate them.

It also emerged that Iyamu took snippets of hair from the women’s heads, as well as pubic hair, and wrote their names on individual packages.

The women – who did not realise how much money they would have to pay to Iyamu – were told: “You have now eaten of the devil and if you do not pay, the devil will kill you.”

They then travelled from Benin City to Libya, where their bus was shot at, before travelling through the desert, at times on foot with limited food.

Some women were raped and one of the three Juju victims fell pregnant before boarding an inflatable boat with more than 100 migrants on board.

Italian rescue crews eventually took the women to a migrant camp in Verona, before associates of Iyamu moved them on to Naples and then Germany.

Five of Iyamu’s victims gave evidence via videolink from Germany during her trial at Birmingham Crown Court, describing the horrendous conditions they endured whilst travelling by boat – with sexual assault, rape, kidnap and death commonplace.

Scheduled to last for around a month, the trial eventually ran for ten weeks as witnesses from Nigeria also gave evidence, one in person and others by videolink.

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