Guest post: 'I was trafficked into prostitution'
It is estimated that there are around 2.4 million human trafficking victims around the world. In the UK, authorities claim there are just over 2,000 victims – but experts fear the real number may be much higher.
The UK government is currently considering a Modern Slavery Bill which aims to stop trafficking in the UK. But the Poppy Project, which works with victims of trafficking, believes that the current bill falls short of what is needed to help survivors, and stop the cycle of violence and exploitation.
Their campaign - A Tiny Protest - asks the Prime Minister to include 7 key principles in the bill.
Ade is a victim of human trafficking, and was helped by the Poppy Project. In this guest post, she tells her story. Do read the piece, and let us know on the thread if you sign the petition.
Victim of human trafficking
Posted on: Tue 11-Mar-14 10:51:28
(29 comments )
I was born in southern Nigeria to a large family. My parents did not earn much but education was important to them. They put me through school, and after I had completed my last year I went to work on my mother's stall in the local market to help out.
Life went on. I started to grow up and fell in love. The relationship didn't work out but it left me with a beautiful son. Around this time, my father reached retirement, and we decided to move to Lagos. We thought we could all earn more if we moved there. It didn't work out that way.
I struggled to find regular work. I made a new friend, Ruth, who told me about friends who had left to work abroad and were making good money. She introduced me to a man called Charles, who seemed to pity me, and offered to arrange for me to work in the UK. I’d just have to pay a small deposit and pay the rest later when I started working. Charles took the ‘small’ deposit - all my savings - and arranged my documents.
I prepared to travel. Charles took me to a juju shrine, where I was made to swear an oath of repayment. We began the journey. I still don’t know how I survived. I was in a vehicle with Charles and many other people, and we travelled from Nigeria to Mauritania. When we got there, I was told I would have to go by ship to get to the UK. I was angry and exhausted. Charles told me not to worry - it would be a short trip. Then he left.
The ship, in fact, was a small boat, completely open to the elements. There were a lot of us on that boat, and for days and days we sailed towards Europe. We were all sure we would die – but somehow we made it to Tenerife, where we were arrested and taken to Madrid. When I came out of the processing centre, Charles was waiting for me.
I started to work as a prostitute. I had to make a certain amount every day. When I made less than this I would be beaten. This continued for 4 years, after which I ran away with the help of a friend I'd made on the street. I called my mother. She was scared. Some men had come to my son's school in Nigeria and taken him. They had told my mother that my son would be returned when I returned. So I went back to that life.
I asked him why I was in Spain when he had promised to take me to the UK. He told me all would be well. He took me to a flat, and I was told to rest. When I woke I was told I would be working in the street. I didn't know what this meant, until the other women in the house told me. I refused. Charles reminded me of my debt, the oath, and of my son.
I started to work as a prostitute. I had to make a certain amount every day. When I made less than this I would be beaten. This continued for 4 years, after which I ran away with the help of a friend I’d made on the street. I stayed in her flat, and after a few days I called my mother.
She was scared. Some men had come to my son’s school in Nigeria and taken him. They had told my mother that my son would be returned when I returned. So I went back to that life.
The breaking point came when a client took me to a field and gang raped me with his friends. They beat me and left me for dead. A lorry driver saw me lying naked and unconscious in the field, and took me to hospital. When I woke up, I called Charles. He collected me a few days later.
I was too scared to work. When it became clear to Charles that I would rather take the beatings than work, he took me to the UK, where I worked in a house. As time went on, they began to get lax with security. I was allowed to go out to the shops, and on one trip I found a purse with a Belgium ID card in it. I kept it and I started to save tiny amounts from the shopping money. On the day I escaped, I was left home alone and the house had not been secured properly. I took my chance. I took a bus to London and tried to leave the country with the ID card.
I was arrested at the St Pancras Station as I tried to board the Eurostar.
I was charged with possession of false documents. I told the police what happened. I told the solicitor what happened. He advised me to plead guilty. No one believed me. In their eyes I was just a lying illegal immigrant. No one there even tried to find Charles and his gang.
I found myself in prison. A charity working in the prison listened to me. They called in experts from the Poppy Project, who fought for me, and made the authorities listen. They supported me in court; the judge threw out my conviction and released me. The Home Office has officially recognised me as a victim of trafficking. Charles remains free.
If you want to help victims of human trafficking, please support the Poppy's Project's campaign at tinyprotest.org.
Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you, and I wish you and your son all the best.
Thank you for sharing your experience Ade, I hope you are able to find some peace. I've worked in this field and know how hard it is to secure official recognition as a victim of trafficking under the NRM, well done to you and Poppy Project.
I feel I should point out that the NSPCC's child trafficking advice centre do equally great work for child victims of trafficking.
What a devastating story. I'm so sorry for everything you've been through. I hope you and your son can find happiness
Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry you had to go through all that. I hope you and your son are safe now.
Thank you for taking the time to share your story. It is sickening that your voice wasn't heard when you tried to escape, and that Charles hasn't been found and convicted. I hope you find happiness and the freedom and good life that you deserve.
Is your son now safe?
I would say you were raped rather than that you worked as a prositute. Surely you were compelled to have sex with these men and it was not your choice. God bless you, I'm so sorry
so sorry you went through that Ade. i hope life is now good for you.
And that's your answer to this woman's story? Not sympathy, certainly not empathy, but a complaint about the organisation which helped her.
Pretty much says everything anyone needs to know then, doesn't it?
bloody well said capt. Ade. I cant even begin to imagine how you have suffered. I hope you have a safe life now and that your child has also. Are you reunited?
What a harrowing story. Thank you for sharing. We all need to be aware that this is going on in our own back yards.
I have reported your posts you pathetic low life
Ade thank you for sharing your story. I hope you are reunited with your son soon.
01johnsa - reported your offensive post
Ade, so glad you are safe now.
Are, so glad you are now safe. I totally
Agree that the victims of trafficking should not be criminalised.
I didn't see the offensive removed posts, but am appalled at insuburbia's response to your story. Having an agenda is one thing, but you are responding to a woman's life experience.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
what a disturbing story. Very brave of you to share this. Such a strong woman
This is a terrible story, but i am afraid all too common. People think slavery is finished but it is not.
Here is another organisation which helps women which needs more funding.
Ade, you are such a strong and courageous woman. I hope you are reunited with your son and have liberty together.
Ade, thank you for sharing for your story. What a heartbreaking story, you are a very brave woman. I wish you all the best for the future.
I see one of our punter friends was here, badmouthing the organisation that helped you. Pimps and punters don't want survivors of trafficking to receive help, or be believed. They don't want this - because if they don't spread the myth that all prostitutes are like Belle de Jour, they can't argue for decriminalisation - which they know directly increases trafficking.
Sweden is not an attractive country for traffickers because of their sex laws. The know this from wiretapping the traffickers themselves.
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