This book is about the moving story of a young woman from the south Nigerian state of Edo, where most African victims of women trafficking and forced prostitution in Europe come from.
In "Die Wassergöttin – Wie ich den Bann des Voodoo brach" (“The Water Goddess – How I broke the spell of Voodoo”), Joana Adesuwa Reiter talks about how her life has been shaped by juju rituals.
As a girl, Adesuwa is declared an Ogbanje or “Water Goddess” by a priestess and her father accuses her, her sister and their mother of bewitching him, hence the downturn in his business. The mother is driven out of her matrimonial home just as her daughters, who are made to undergo rituals so that the “water spirit” in them can be expunged. But all this doesn’t help the father as the daughters cannot be made to confess, the spirits cannot be “expelled” from them and his business doesn’t improve.
Later Adesuwa meets a Vienna, Austria-based Nigerian, Tony, who marries her in Benin City. To ensure her fidelity and that she brings good fortunes into the matrimonial home, Adesuwa is made to undergo a week-long ritual to remove the same “water spirit” from her. The description of the activities of the ritual will make you shiver because of the physical abuse they entail.
On joining Tony in Vienna, Adesuwa finds out that her husband is actually a pimp who brings girls from Nigeria and puts them to work in the brothels and streets of the Austrian capital city as prostitutes. Adesuwa learns that the girls had also been subjected to similar rituals like hers to ensure their loyalty. The girls believe that if they go against their pledge at the juju shrine before they were brought to Europe, they will die.
Adesuwa finally finds a way out when she meets an Austrian man who counsels her and encourages her to go to the authorities to break loose from her trap. The two marry and found a family, bringing to an end a tortuous odyssey of the young woman.
The most revealing thing about the book is the link between the rituals and the power they have on the victims of forced prostitution. Adesuwa’s book has been criticized by some Nigerians for washing their land’s dirty linen in the public. But fact is: her story is real. The rituals are still being practiced; innocent girls are still being deceived into the horror of forced prostitution. Children are sent out of their parents’ homes on the suspicion of witchcraft; innocent kids are held responsible for the misfortunes that befall their families - be it job loss or ill health.
Adesuwa is a courageous woman for going public with her story. Die Wassergöttin hopefully will help the authorities both in Europe and Nigeria to better understand the menace of the trafficking of young girls and women so that they will be able to help its victims.