Dr. Jennifer DeWan and David Lohan

Edited by
Angelo Lafferty SMA and Gerard Forde


© 2012 Cois Tine

A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978 0 9572521 0 3 (Paperback)
ISBN 978 0 9572521 1 1 (ePub)
ISBN 978 0 9572521 2 7 (Kindle)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording or electronically without written permission of the publisher. Such written permission also must be obtained before any part of this publication is stored in a retrieval system of any nature. Requests for permission should be directed to Oak Tree Press, 19 Rutland Street, Cork, Ireland or


This book is dedicated to immigrants who have made their way to Ireland and to all who have fallen victim to human trafficking.


There are a great many people to whom thanks are owed, without whose contributions this work would never have been possible and whose contributions enriched this work immeasurably. We wish to acknowledge all of those who contributed and to offer our sincerest thanks.

While this book is the result of a team effort which includes the combined talents of several people, Fr. Angelo Lafferty SMA, Director, Cois Tine and Mr. Gerard Forde, SMA Justice and Peace Office would like to extend a special word of thanks to Dr. Jennifer DeWan and Mr. David Lohan who voluntarily undertook the research and writing in response to an advertisement on the Cork Volunteer Centre’s website. Their selflessness, talents, efforts, dedication and the enormous amount of time given are very much appreciated. Thanks also to the Society of African Missions Provincial Leadership for their encouragement and support of this work.

Dr. Jennifer DeWan would like to thank:

All the staff, volunteers and community at Cois Tine, who always made her feel so welcome, and who gave her such great insight and support for this research. And, of course, a massive thanks too to all who contributed to this project, with their knowledge and experiences of African witchcraft, who although they are not named were fundamental to this research.

Mr. David Lohan would like to thank:

Ms. Mary Crilly of the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork, Ireland and Sr. Monica Onwunali of The Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) for sharing so many insights into human trafficking and prostitution. Thanks are owed too to Ms. Mary Murphy of the Sexual Violence Centre, Cork, Ireland for her assistance.

Mr. Phillip O’Connor, Director of the Dublin Employment Pact (DEP), for relating the work undertaken by the DEP, under an EU-funded initiative, to counter violence against women and the implications of this for anti-trafficking proposals presently before the Irish Government.

Fr. Shay Cullen SCC, Director of the PREDA Foundation, Inc., Philippines and a three times Nobel Peace Prize nominee, for conveying his experience of the realities of human trafficking in the Philippines.

Uachtarán Fhianna Fáil, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D., for the generosity of his advice and time in assisting the research of claims made in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, and Mr. Damien Brennan, Private Secretary to the Minister, for their assistance in clarifying the contemporary position of the Swedish Model proposal, which would outlaw the purchase of sex, put before the Irish Government

His Excellency Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to the United States, Ms. Norma Ces, Personal Assistant to the Ambassador, and Mr Martin McDonald, Counsellor for Justice Affairs at the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C., for their efforts in investigating claims made in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

His Excellency Martin O’Fainin, former Irish Ambassador to Australia, and the staff of the Consular Section at the Irish Embassy in Canberra for their efforts in investigating claims made in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

The personnel of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State for their assistance: His Excellency Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Ms. Jennifer Donnelly, Reports Office; Ms. Ann Karl, Reports Office; and Ms. Mai Shiozaki, Press Officer.

Dr. Marc Ostfield, Director – Policy and Global Issues at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

The staff of U.S. Embassy in Dublin for their work in convening, co-ordinating and supporting the efforts of so many groups and whose support was invaluable to the production of this publication: Ms. Lynne Gadkowski, Mr. Peter Glennon, Mr. Christopher Rendo and Mr. Michael Hanley.

Ms. Marion Walsh, Executive Director, Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), Department of Justice and Equality, for giving of her time to be interviewed and for her contributions in the form of preliminary data for 2011, the experience of the AHTU of witchcraft and the role of the AHTU in combating the problem nationally.

Mr. Barra O’Duill, Research Officer, Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), Department of Justice and Equality, who facilitated the research behind this publication and through his expertise has directed the author to information subsequently deemed vital to the work.

Sr. Mary Anne O’Brien, Long Beach, Mississippi, for assisting with enquiries.

Ms. Fiona David, Research Expert, Trafficking in Persons Consultant to the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), for her assistance regarding the Trafficking in Persons Report claims of exploitation of Irish workers in Australia.

Detective Inspector Kajsa Wahlberg, Swedish National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, for addressing the issues raised in relation to trafficking in Sweden.

Fr. Kevin Kiernan OFM Cap. and Dr. Attracta Lafferty for their support throughout.

Fr. Jarlath Walsh SMA for proof-reading the text.

Mr. Jerome Reilly, Deputy News Editor, Sunday Independent, Mr. Kevin Donovan, Cois Tine and Mr. Paul Donohue, Anti-Slavery International, for their contributions in making research materials on human trafficking available.

The staff and lecturers of University College Cork, College of Business and Law, headed by Professor Irene Lynch Fannon, and the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, headed by Professor Caroline Fennell. Their many insights proved invaluable in dealing with the varied nature of this challenging subject.


This book has grown out of Cois Tine’s pastoral care of African immigrants in Ireland over the past 10 years. Cois Tine (meaning ‘by the fireside’ in Irish) is a project founded by the Society of African Missions. It is motivated by the Gospel call to welcome the Stranger and by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, such as human dignity, equality and solidarity – values also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since its foundation in 2002, its role has evolved from providing basic support and initial welcome for the newly-arrived to the provision of social, psychological and spiritual supports to long-term resident immigrants. This support facilitates access to services, participation in society and active citizenship.

Over the years, Cois Tine has supported thousands of individuals in dealing with a wide range of issues. Among them, we have encountered two very different but linked issues: human trafficking and witchcraft. For various reasons, these issues are cloaked in secrecy and therefore have been difficult to understand or respond to. In our experience, among members of the Irish community, there is a tendency to deny their presence in Ireland. On the other hand, many immigrants accept their reality but tend not to speak about them openly for fear of retribution or ridicule.

In order to gain a better understanding and also to find ways of responding to these complex issues, we decided to do something about them. Open Secrets is the result.


Human trafficking is a shocking violation of the fundamental rights and basic dignity of the human person. It causes unimaginable misery and suffering as many are dehumanised and forced to become commodities that are bought, sold, used and abused. It might not be an issue we think about as existing here in Ireland but rather as a problem in Africa or Asia or other parts of Europe. Sadly, it is a crime that affects the communities where we live as human beings are trafficked into our country from other continents. Within the confines of ordinary-seeming apartments, houses and hotels, this inhumane form of modern slavery is taking place. Immigrant women, in particular, are suffering the consequences of human trafficking, which leads to a litany of horrific abuses. Victims are trapped physically, psychologically, spiritually and emotionally by their traffickers. This exploitation is often compounded by deprivation, starvation, torture and, in some instances, where African women are concerned, enslavement by witchcraft.

In a statement on migration in 2006, entitled Migrations: A Sign of the Times, Pope Benedict XVI criticised the “trafficking of human beings – especially women – which flourishes where opportunities to improve their standard of living or even to survive are limited”.1 During a visit to Angola in March 2009, he further expressed his concern about the persistence of the belief in witchcraft among Africans as he spoke about “Africans living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers”.2 For those of us living in the Western world, it is important to try to understand these fears and that, for many, magical or witchcraft powers are real. They can have effects that are positive or negative, ranging from the insignificant to the devastating and should not be attributed to superstition. In communities across Africa, according to Michael Katola, a lecturer in pastoral theology: “Witchcraft is a reality and not a superstition. Many communities know these powers exist”.3 Open Secrets takes this reality seriously and does not judge those who feel bound by it.

This work, while primarily about human trafficking, also looks at witchcraft and how both are linked in the trafficking process. Open Secrets is part of an on-going process aimed at supporting African immigrants as they face the social, economic, spiritual, and psychological burdens of migration and integration. By exploring African traditional beliefs and practices (including magic, spirituality, witchcraft, sorcery, divination, oracles, etc.) and how they are manifesting in Ireland, we can better understand and ease some of the social, physical and mental burdens being experienced by African immigrants living here.

Dr. Jennifer DeWan begins with an exploration of the term ‘witchcraft’. She goes on to examine its perception and understanding among Europeans and among Africans, where for many, the material and invisible worlds are linked seamlessly. In some cases, this link provides a means to control those who are trafficked. Further, by highlighting how African traditional beliefs and practices have combined syncretically with Christian beliefs (such as the Pentecostal and Catholic Charismatic movements), the foundations are laid for the development of pastoral practice and an understanding that does not necessarily judge or demonise traditional beliefs, unless the practices emanating from those beliefs are seen to inflict harm. By putting African witchcraft beliefs and practices into context with the Irish and European histories of witchcraft and magic, Dr. DeWan hopes to provide a sense of common ground, or a type of translation, where something first perceived as ‘foreign’ or ‘backward’ becomes more familiar, less daunting and more seriously considered.

In Part Two of Open Secrets, David Lohan explores the complexity of human trafficking and the increasing interest in the phenomenon. One must acknowledge with regret the growing number of people being trafficked into our country. Despite this fact, human trafficking is still largely viewed as being something that happens far away. Indeed, it may be said that human trafficking is now an ‘open secret’ in Irish society. Yet human trafficking is a complex practice with many different aspects. Misunderstandings abound concerning the practice and nature of human trafficking. Lack of understanding often means that awareness of the phenomenon is limited at best. This book seeks to raise both understanding and awareness and in turn, we hope, contribute to a greater and more positive response to this heinous crime.

This work is very much aimed at the ordinary reader. No prior understanding of human trafficking is required. The approach adopted by Mr. Lohan is one of a discussion on the topic. He strives to enable the reader to reach his or her own conclusions through his detailed research undertaken to present the case on human trafficking. Having discussed the tactics and strategy of human traffickers, he expands the discussion to include the world’s only internationally-recognised definition of human trafficking and why it is important. The resulting understanding is used to develop a holistic comprehension of human trafficking, one which is mindful of tactics, strategy, motives, victim, trafficker and the consumer who ultimately benefits from the enslavement of others.

Highlighting some cases of human trafficking in Ireland, the text demonstrates just how very relevant the lessons of global experience are to Irish society. The origins and implications of human trafficking are explored, contending that the practice is rooted in human vulnerability. Human traffickers exploit this vulnerability to recruit a steady supply of slaves. Trafficking is a practice based on demand and supply. By exploring the supply in the source country, Mr. Lohan lays the foundation for an approach that questions ‘who’ ought to be criminalised and examines the links between prostitution and human trafficking in economic terms.

The contemporary situation of human trafficking in Ireland is explored through accounts of particular Irish cases. The measures already in place to counter human trafficking in Ireland, as well as those being considered by the Irish Government, are described. Mr. Lohan makes the case for a more sophisticated understanding of victimhood and cautions against reliance on simplistic stereotypical images of “hapless victims shackled to beds” and wants the reader to know the real impact of victimhood.

Victims of human trafficking suffer devastating physical and psychological harm. However, due to language barriers, lack of knowledge about available services and the frequency with which traffickers move victims, human trafficking victims and their perpetrators are difficult to catch.

Violence is at the heart of human trafficking. If one is to understand human trafficking, the role of violence in human trafficking must also be understood. It is only in this way that we can fully appreciate how so many can be exploited against their will, very often in public places and for long periods of time. Without this understanding, the true nature of human trafficking cannot be fathomed.

The Catholic Church condemns human trafficking. The Church’s view is reflected in the words of Fr. Shay Cullen SCC, who has worked with victims in the Philippines for many years. He refers to trafficking as the “greatest the crime of all and it is one that has to be stopped, eradicated and the victims freed and compensated wherever possible. It is a task for the international community”.4

The Catholic Church has a pastoral responsibility to defend and promote the human dignity of people who are exploited by this modern-day form of slavery. While Catholic Social Teaching does not provide a set of answers or a course of prescriptions, it does offer guidelines and directions to follow. In the Conclusion, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching are briefly described in the context of responding to trafficking and witchcraft.

This book is best considered as a source of stimulating ideas rather than one of definitive conclusions. It is written as an introduction to some of the challenging changes occurring in Irish society. It goads the reader into a realisation of the complexity of human trafficking and the need for greater awareness and understanding of the abuses suffered by victims. It also brings witchcraft into the open as a topic for serious consideration. Finally, it points to the need to formulate and mobilise a pastoral and societal response.

Angelo Lafferty SMA and Gerard Forde


1Pope Benedict XVI, 2005.

2Allen, 2009a.


4This quotation was taken from an email sent to the authors by Fr. Shay Cullen SCC during the early stages of researching material for this book. The work of Fr Cullen is for many an inspiration and an example of practical pastoral commitment to the care of trafficking victims.



Witchcraft is a reality and not a superstition.
Many communities know these powers exist.

Michael Katola, Theologian