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2013 (Narrative date)

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia.

Idora was enslaved in sex work after being promised lucrative cleaning work in the UK to help her save for a university education. Her story highlights that those who escape slavery may yet feel forced to return because of threats made against their lives, or those of their family members.

I was trafficked from Nigeria two years ago. I was training as a primary school teacher. A man befriended me, offered a cleaning job in the UK earning me enough to go to university – my dream. Before leaving, he made me participate in a witchcraft ceremony, drinking a mixture of the inside of a hen, and making me promise never to disobey him or else I would go mad. I received false documents, including a script of what to tell border officials in the UK. I was picked up at the airport and driven to a house in London. I was locked in a room with three other women and then sexually exploited. The witchcraft ceremony back in Nigeria haunted me. I was moved to different flats, working as a sex worker in all of them. This went on for months. When the police raided our flat, I was placed in a detention centre and then a hostel. The traffickers threatened to harm my mother in Lagos if I didn’t return as a sex worker. I had to go back. A further seven months passed till I was rescued by a police raid. I was placed in City Hearts shelter, which helped and supported me. Perhaps, my university dream can now come true.

As told to the Human Trafficking Foundation