May Ikeora


This article examines the role that African Traditional Religion (ATR) plays in giving ammunition to human trafficking, a role that serves as an emerging perspective in the understanding and critical engagement with this subject area. Elements within African traditional religion, popularly and often wrongfully termed ‘Juju’, proffer a method of control often used by certain traffickers to keep their victims in perpetual bondage. The data used in this article was derived from extensive fieldwork in Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) where forty-six (46) anti-trafficking stakeholders including victims were interviewed. The data indicates that this control mechanism was present in several cases of human trafficking from Nigeria, serving to impede effective investigations and the prosecution of traffickers. Consequently the protection of victims has also been obstructed. This article hence asserts that trafficking should also be understood from the perspective of the belief system of victims, one rooted in ATR rather than being attributed to brainwashing. It is also pertinent that policymakers and practitioners understand this emerging perspective if appropriate and sustainable anti-trafficking measures are to be fashioned to stem the tide.

Author Biography

May Ikeora is an independent consultant with general focus on Gender, human trafficking and Peacebuilding. May recently gained a PhD degree in Law from the University of Hull (focused on Anti-Human trafficking between the United Kingdom and Nigeria) and MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford. She has over nine years experience working in related sectors at international, national and grassroots levels in both the UK and Africa. May has first-hand experience advocating against the practice of human trafficking from Africa to Europe.