To mark this year’s Anti Slavery Day Migrant Help has published the following press release.
Kidnappers forced me to be a sex worker
Anti-Slavery Day on October 18 will focus on victims of modern-day human trading, such as Maria who was snatched at gunpoint and brought to Britain
Slavery is big business for organised crime with an estimated 13,000 people being held against their will in the UK, according to latest Home Office figures.
Worldwide nearly 36 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery, being forced to live as labourers, prostitutes, child brides or in domestic servitude.
Anti-Slavery Day, on October 18, annually draws attention to the scale and scope of human trafficking. It also puts pressure on the government, local authorities, public institutions and private and public companies to address the subject.
Maria* is a victim of modern-day slavery who was brought to Britain. She is now receiving support and practical care by Migrant Help, the only charity that helps victims of trafficking and slavery across the UK.
This is her story:
‘I was 18-years-old and recently married to a man in my home country of Romania. It had been an arranged agreement. In the summer of 2013, he said we needed to go overseas for a better life. He said his contacts would get us into France and get us identification papers.
In an earlier attempt to leave Romania we’d been caught on the German border and ordered to return home. But by late summer we found ourselves in France.
Sadly, when we finally received the fake ID documents, they were not the quality we had been promised. My husband refused to pay the agreed fees and argued with the men.
The conflict become violent, and I was taken at gunpoint. I was alone, not knowing where I was or what to expect. The horrible experiences that followed changed my life.
Under the orders of my kidnappers, I was forced to become a sex worker in England. My life was at permanent risk under their control. I feared what could happen to me.
Many times during the next two years I attempted to hurt myself. I felt it was the only way to end the constant abuse, the only way to escape the nightmare I was living, but there really was no way out. I became isolated from society. My only purpose in life was to meet the needs of others – all at the demand of those who wrongly held me there.
One day I was told we were moving. I was loaded into a lorry and warned against attempting to approach the police. The men told me they had inside connections; that I would only ever be returned to these men; they would find me and …
Unexpectedly, during the journey, the risk of the authorities intervening became too high and my captives released me to save themselves further trouble.
Although I knew I was lucky to be alive, I felt worthless. I didn’t wish to seek support at first as I felt shame in talking about what had happened. I could not speak English and my mental and emotional health deteriorated due to the constant fear of my captives returning.
This year, I was advised to seek advice from Migrant Help UK. They have been supporting me as I go through the challenging process of finding safety in the UK and deciding my future.
Receiving treatment for my mental health has helped me begin to overcome the traumas I experienced. I have counselling sessions to rid myself of negative feelings of self-worth.
In addition Migrant Help ensures that I receive appropriate guidance until I am able to develop my English.
Most importantly, I have been able to look to a brighter future in which I can find success and happiness without constant fear.’
Maria is progressing well, has a more positive outlook and has hope in the future once more. She continues to receive Migrant Help support through the provision of interpreters and a health and counselling service. She is getting help with her depression and post-traumatic stress so that she can begin to overcome her unbelievable experiences.
Migrant Help’s Victim Support Service staff are committed to ensuring that survivors are provided with a safe and supportive environment, and a place of recovery as they process their past, rebuild their confidence, develop skills and gain control over their lives again.
The charity deals with the adults, and their dependants, of all forms of modern-day slavery, labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced criminality and other forms of human trafficking.
* Maria is not her real name. It has been changed to protect her identity.