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Ray Rosario

Vodou - Vodun - Voodoo

Ray Rosario
Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking

These are two types Vodou/Bochio/Nkisi/Nkonde/Fetish Nail, dolls which are used in oath taking ceremonies to bind the mind into a contract. These will be part of the exhibition. 

In regions of Africa, sex traffickers use Vodou/Vodun/Voodoo as a weapon for spiritual and psychological mind control over their victims.


The word Vodon means “Spirit” in the local Fon language. Vodou/Vodun/Vodoun (or the western adaptation Voodoo) is a religion that originated in Africa, specifically in the kingdom of Dahome, present day Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. Based on traditional African religions, it incorporates supernatural forces and nature in order to commune with the Iwa (communal spirits) and communicate with these spirits. 


In the Western culture, “Voodoo” has been demonized as an evil cult-like religion while Hollywood made billions sensationalizing it and deforming its intended purpose. This has created a misconception about the Vodun religion. 


As part of the religious tradition, Vodou/Bochio/Nkisi/Nkonde/Fetish Nail dolls are used for protection or ward off evil or ensure personal success, etc. They may also be used to harm an enemy. In a ceremony, a promise/oath is made by the individual who requested the doll to be created. The doll is made in secret and only the owner knows its composition and purpose. If the individual does not keep their word/oath, the result is death.


In certain regions of Africa, Vodun is used as a psychological and spiritual weapon by sex traffickers to bind their victims to oaths and eternal servitude. Traffickers use Vodun like psychological and spiritual warfare against their victims to keep them silent and subservient.


In other parts of the world, the use of Vodun to control and traffick humans may seem far fetched and difficult to comprehend. Traffickers found a way to entrapped victims with their own religion. They often offer better economic opportunities for young girls who have children and families with parents who are ill or disabled. The majority of the opportunities offered involve relocation to Europe. 


Before the journey to a better life begins, victims of trafficking are coerced into signing a moral contract with the traffickers who finance their journey. The contract is sealed by a spiritual priest or native doctor to whom they promise to never denounce their traffickers to the police, obey the madam, and fully pay their debt. Some of the victims are forced to drink the blood of a sacrificial animal (e.g. chicken) or eat the liver to seal the pact. When the victims arrive to their European destination, it is then that they are forced into prostitution, sex slavery, or into domestic servitude until the debt is paid off, which is never the case. 


Within the Netherlands, investigators uncovered hundreds of Nigerian girls being trafficked into Europe and forced into the sex trade & industry.


Most of the victims declined to testify against their traffickers. Investigators had trouble rationalizing their refusals since the victims were in safe hands and protected. Upon further investigation that led to the victims’ homeland, it was discovered that the victims feared that death would come upon their loved ones if they testified, a reprisal from breaking the spiritual/religious Vodun oath. 


Psychological imprisonment can be more powerful the man-made steel chains. 

Sources: International Organization Migration, RT

Ray Rosario
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