In Benin and Togo, the horrendous religious practice of Vudusi takes place. Thousands of young children (usually virgin girls) are trapped in this practice of being given to the voodoo idol gods and the witch doctors who oversee these temples. These children become wives and slaves of the temple god by their parents or other family members – often to pay a debt or atone for a sin. Once becoming property of the temple, these children are now known as “vudusi”, meaning wives or slaves of the gods. It is not uncommon for this practice to become multi-generational and the children to bear more children into this horrendous form of child slavery. There are more than 3000 girls trapped as temple prostitutes in Benin and Togo as temple slaves. Our friend and associate, Pastor Michael, has been rescuing Vudusi girls for several years, placing them in Christian homes and helping rehabilitate them after years of toture and abuse. Here are a few of their stories:
“I was born into a polygamous family of 22 and was the fifth child of seven by my mother. As soon as my mother had this seventh child she became insane. From the story we were told, a witch doctor was invited into the home to cure my mother of her madness. This doctor demanded a large sum of money from my father. My father, along with my mother’s parents did not have the money. Instead I was given as payment for the cure of my mother. I am told that my mother was cured of her madness for a short time and then died. The blame was put on my father for being irresponsible. I remained a wife to the 65 year old witch doctor from the time I was twelve until sixteen.
When I was sixteen, one of the witch doctor’s sons started raping me. I was told that if I told on him he would kill me and that I should not refuse his further advances. By this time, the witch doctors had twelve wives and many children. I decided to run away and some people took me to a Christian Pastor named Michael who was holding some evangelistic meetings in the area. Michael took me to the Community Head who demanded that I be turned over to him and that he would send me back to school. But it was only a trick for him to take me as his wife. Michael persuaded the Community Head to allow me to go back with him to pick up my belongings. This Community Head said that he would send one of his deputies with us to make sure we didn’t run away. But Michael paid the deputy a bribe of $345 and we left the area, never to return.
When I was first taken in by the church, I had bad health, many mosquito bites, pneumonia as well as some sexually transmitted diseases.
I now stay with a sister of Pastor Michael’s church. I help her by doing household chores as well as grow food on the farmland. I only finished through the 5th grade but would like to return to school. I hope someday to become a chef or do catering. But first I would like to return to school and maybe even go to University. I enjoy spending time in nature and cooking. I’m also involved with the church in doing house to house evangelism. At first I had a hard time to associate with others. I did not understand this prayer and had never heard of or seen this Holy Bible before. I now have learned to pray and occasionally lead worship and praises in the Christian church that I attend. I am hoping for a sponsor so that I may buy clothing, sleeping materials, monthly upkeep and to return to school or to learn catering. I am learning to have confidence once again and thank Jesus for my new life.”
“My father was a Voodoo adherent all of his life. He had a sudden death and I was taken in by my grandfather. My grandfather had a python god in the house that he had made a vow to before my father was born. He promised to marry all females born in the family to the gods if he would be given a male child. When my father died, my grandfather felt he was being punished for not honoring his vow and so he sent me to the Chief Voodoo Priest for cleansing and preparation for the marriage service to the gods. I was married to this Priest for two years when Pastor Michael rescued me.”
“When I heard the predicament of this girl, I was concerned on how we might possibly extract her. It seems that she was of the highest order of the cult – called a princess. After two weeks of pondering the situation I went to this village called Mono Couffo to get her. I posed as one who wanted to consult the gods and insisted that it must be Christiane who I must see. After some persuasion, I was able to speak to her and ask her all I could before the fetish chief came in. It was very difficult for her to believe me considering all she had gone through. I showed her pictures of other orphans and widows that I work with. Then I showed her pictures of a few other Vudusi girls that I had helped escape. That did the trick. I left her with some cash for transportation – in the presence of the Chief Voodoo priest who thought I was paying her for work well done. After nine days, she pretended to be going to the forest to look for ritual herbs. She caught a transport, called us and we met her. She is from the northern part of the country and we live in another area, so we do not believe that they will be able to track her down.”
“I did drop out of school when I was young and hope to return. I hope to become a hair dresser some day. I help “grandma” with household chores. She is really just a lady from the church but treats me as her own. I also enjoy gardening. It seems that I am in good health.”
“Christiane is learning so fast and is forgetting her sad experiences of growing up face to face with demons. After her deliverance and confession in Jesus Christ she was baptized and now growing in her faith.”