“When I was 15, I was sent to England to work as a domestic worker. On the first day a man came, raped me and beat me – I was terrified. He forced me to have sex with lots of different men he brought to the house. It was horrible.
When I finally managed to run away, I was pregnant.
After the police found me, at first I lived in a hostel. But when I was seven months pregnant, I was sent to a detention centre because my asylum claim had been rejected. I didn’t get any healthcare.
The church I had attended before helped me to find a lawyer who lodged an appeal; I was released just before giving birth.
But six months later they took me and my baby to another detention centre. I was so depressed – I’ve never done anything wrong, but my daughter and I were being punished.
Finally an organisation supporting trafficked women took me to their safe house where I finally felt safe and had lots of support.
Grace was trafficked to Britain as a child and exploited in a horrible way. But even more heartbreaking is the lack of support and understanding from the UK authorities.
Unfortunately the way Grace was treated is all too common.
Support for slavery victims is patchy and long term care is rarely provided. Most victims have to move out of a safe house without any further support shortly after arriving there.
The authorities often look at victims of slavery through the context of their immigration status and treat them as immigration offenders rather than victims of a serious crime.
Protection of children is also of great concern but the Child Guardianship scheme has to wait for implementation another two years.
We need to change it. We are calling for an implementation of a comprehensive victim protection system with human rights of all victims of slavery at the heart of it.
Our latest action was campaigning to protect overseas domestic workers from slavery by untying their immigration status from their employers. We made some progress, even though not all our demand were fulfilled.
Much remains to be done. Please sign up to our campaign for latest news and next action to take so that all people like Grace can feel safe when they finally escape their abusers.
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