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Ada, 25 from Sierra Leone
“Life in Sierra Leone was difficult. My father beat me a lot when I was growing up and yelled at me all the time. When I decided to convert to Christianity my parents threw me out of the house, so I went to live with a friend and worked in a restaurant to support myself. I was quite happy to be living independently.
“I had been with my boyfriend Paul* for about six months and we often talked about moving abroad to find work and get married; we were in love. Paul suggested that we move to the UK because he had an uncle there; I thought it would be a good opportunity to start a new life and maybe go back to school so that I could become a teacher.
“Paul arranged everything and we travelled together to London. I carried my own papers and travel documents. I was happy and excited to be going to London to start my life with Paul.
“Paul’s uncle picked us up from the airport and we went to a house together. Paul said that he was going out for a bit and that I should stay with his uncle; after Paul left his uncle raped me. I was devastated and felt helpless. A few hours later his uncle came into the room and said that Paul had gone back to Sierra Leone and that I had to work as a prostitute until I had paid back the £5,000 it cost to bring me here. He raped me again and told me that he would keep doing it until I agreed to pay back the money. I couldn’t believe that Paul could do this to me, I was devastated.
“I was taken to a brothel and made to work there for six months. One time after a few months, Paul called me. He wanted me to know that if I tried to escape or went back to Sierra Leone, he would find me and hurt me. I asked how he could do this to me; he laughed and said that his uncle owned me now.
“There were five other women at the brothel. I had to have sex with two or three men a day and I was kept locked in at all times. I had to see customers at whatever time they came to the brothel, so I was often woken up in the middle of the night. The men who ran the brothel threatened me and often hit me, so I was afraid to say no. I was also afraid to ask the customers for help because the men at the brothel told me that they would find out and beat me. At first I used to cry a lot, but after a few months I realised there was no point because nobody would help me.
“Usually the customers wanted safe sex, but sometimes they wouldn’t use a condom. They paid more when they wanted this. I saw a lot of bad things whilst I was at the brothel. I saw the other women being beaten and raped. I was raped too.
“I escaped at New Year, when the men held a New Year’s Eve party. This was the first time that the door wasn’t locked, so when nobody was looking I ran out of the back door.
“I slept in a park for a few nights before a woman asked me if I was ok. I told her about the brothel and Paul; she took me to a police station because she said that there are people who can help me.
“The police spoke to Eaves’ Poppy Project and the same day I moved into one of their safe houses. I had a support worker at Poppy who was really nice and went with me to appointments with the police, solicitor and doctor. I felt sad for a while, but after a few months I made some friends in the Poppy house and began to think that I would be ok. Eaves encouraged me to go to some art and drama classes to build my confidence and they also helped me to claim asylum because I can’t go back to Sierra Leone.
“I recently moved into my own flat and am now at college and on my way to becoming a teacher; the reason I came to the UK. I will be eternally grateful to Eaves for helping me put my life back together.”
*Not their real names.
24th April 2014
Eaves welcomes the verdict in the Max Clifford case. We applaud the CPS for continuing to bring cases despite… read more
23rd April 2014
This training is for professionals working within Health, Criminal Justice, Social Care, Police, Education or… read more