The United Kingdom remains a significant destination for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. 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. At least one child a day is trafficked into Britain according the to the Human Trafficking Foundation, with children forced to work in the sex industry, domestic service, cannabis cultivation or as criminal on the streets. Child victims of human trafficking primarily originate from Romania, Vietnam, Nigeria, and from within the UK itself.
Cristina was 16 when her mother forced her to sleep with men to pay rent for their home in Romania. She was then taken to the UK for babysitting work, however upon arrival she was forced to provide sexual services at a ‘spa’ for over a year. It was not until she was picked up by police officers that she was able to escape.
When I was 16, my mum forced me to sleep with men to pay for our flat in Romania. One client, Sorin, suggested babysitting work in the UK. Mum wanted us to go but I didn’t trust him when he provided a false ID. Sorin drove us from the airport to a house in Birmingham. There, a man and woman controlled three girls who worked for them in their spa salon doing massage. I was bought vulgar clothes, taught bad English words. They called me Roxie. It wasn’t massage we did in the spa, but other things. I was forced to provide sexual services for more than a year. One day the police saw me with my make-up on getting out of a car. They asked questions. I didn’t understand English. They took me to a police station. I spent the night in a cell. I told them everything through an interpreter. I testified against the traffickers. I was placed in local authority care, the traffickers nearly kidnapped me from there. I am now on a hairdressing course and 18. My future is uncertain.
As told to the Human Trafficking Foundation