Woman tells of trafficking ordeal

Published Tuesday, 24 September 2013
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A young Romanian woman who was trafficked into Northern Ireland and forced to work as a prostitute has spoken to UTV about her ordeal.

Woman tells of trafficking ordeal
'Anna' spoke of her horrific experience. (© UTV)

Aged just 20 years old Anna, not her real name, was walking along a street in North London where she was training to be a nurse when she was grabbed and bundled into a car in 2011.

Two armed men warned her that her mum would be hurt if she didn't do as she was told. They then brought her to Luton Airport where she boarded a plane to Galway.

Anna explained: "I didn't know where I was going and I didn't know what was happening to me and I just hoped I could escape from the place I was going to go."

With little to eat or drink and continuously beaten, Anna was held in same room for four months and forced to work as a prostitute between 15 and 20 times a day.

I think this is a very big problem here.

Anna

She continued: "Those months were very bad - I didn't see the colour of the day, I just knew the time was passing and I couldn't count the days. If I was screaming I was beaten. They couldn't hit my face but they were hitting my neck, taking my head and pushing me into the wall and would put me in the shower."

Anna said there were at least 20 women trapped in the same brothel. They were often beaten in front of her, she explained, and told her they had been trafficked.

She was taken to brothels in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Derry and Belfast until - with the help of one of her clients - she was finally able to escape one night.

Anna was so traumatised by her ordeal that she tried to kill herself in Belfast Lough.

"I just wanted to go there and never come back," she said. "I was so cold."

Police figures reveal two men have been convicted of human trafficking so far this year and 33 potential victims have been rescued. Anna believes there are many more than this.

She is now helping the PSNI try to track down her captors.

Anna said: "In a week in Belfast there would have been ten, eleven, twelve, fifteen, just from this place where I have been but the amount of people altogether could be more."

Lord Morrow brought a bill to the Assembly on Monday which, if passed, would see men who purchase sex criminalised instead of those who sell it.

Meanwhile Anna said she is now planning to study law in the future in order to try and help people like her who have been caught in the nightmare that is human trafficking.

© UTV News
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3 Comments
concerned in belfast wrote (390 days ago):
This is a terrible occurrence that is happening every day and yet nobody seems to be willing to pay any heed to it, their reason being "it doesn't affect them". What can we do to tackle this lazy and uncaring view that the men and women of this country have today? If they themselves, or someone they knew or cared about was under threat they would not hesitate to help. The simple fact is that everyone except the perpetrators themselves are under a very real threat, unfortunately this is especially the case for children and young women. I cannot see how people can remain so detached from what is going on right under their noses, only interested in war in another country and other foreign affairs. This is happening, now, in your home town or city. Lucky for you that other countries' sons and daughters are being trafficked and abused in your home country-and not so much the other way around? I can't happily sit by and say I'm not affected, when I know someone out there is being used, falsely imprisoned or abused and unable to help themselves. It's near impossible to have a voice when you are being oppressed. People need to wise up, there is no need for such demand in the purchase of living human bodies for abuse and personal pleasure. Why do something you would not have done to yourself? No more excuses. Its sickening.
David Mitchell in Belfast wrote (391 days ago):
If human trafficking is a serious problem in northern Ireland why did the PSNI disband the dedicated Human Trafficking Unit and give responsibility for human trafficking pro-active investigations to the general Organised Crime Branch?
Lois Hamilton in Bangor wrote (392 days ago):
I must say I am very disappointed in the human trafficking debate - its not an accurate reflection of the reality- to raise the fact that only 4 victims have been rescued in the last quarter with only one recognized (so far in the NRM system) is completely naive, irrelevant and misleading - there are more complex reasons for this not least serious factors such as a failure by the PSNI to identify and refer to NRM rather than a reflection of the fact that there are fewer victims!
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