Ah Wang left China when he was 28, seven years ago. His wife stayed behind while he saw what life was like in the UK. He was misled by the snakeheads arranging his trip, and faced a difficult journey. Ah Wang travelled across countries by car but ‘needed to climb mountains when entering the borders because we had no passports.’ Local guides, part of the snakehead chain, would guide them across borders. They ended up staying in some places for up to a month while the next stages of the journey were planned. The journey ended up taking about a year. When Ah Wang eventually arrived in the UK by boat he was arrested by the police but was released soon after. He thought he had applied for asylum at that time, but several years later discovered that there was no record of his claim.
Ah Jing’s parents were arrested for practising Falun Gong when she was seven or eight years old. In China she had been homeless, fending for herself, earning a meagre living trading scrap paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, jars and books. When she was 16, she borrowed some money from some snakeheads who then told her they could find her work in the UK, so that she could repay what she owed. Before she left China Ah Jing owed ¥100,000 to the snakeheads: on arrival in the UK she owed a further ¥170,000, making ¥270,000 in total. Ah Jing had willingly left her hard life in China, where she had no identity papers, money or home. Once she was in the UK, her debts had increased and she was pressurised into sex work, which she resisted. She was raped by a snakehead and became pregnant. As she was no further use as a sex worker, she was released with threats that if she told anyone about her ordeal, they would take revenge.