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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
'I was a victim of child traffickers'
The growing problem of child trafficking to the UK has been highlighted by a police monitoring operation and a study by a coalition of children's charities. One victim, Dayo - trafficked to the UK from Nigeria when she was 15 - spoke to children's charity Unicef.

Dayo was trafficked from Nigeria

Dayo was brought to the UK in 2000 by a trafficker who used his sister's passport to get her past immigration officers:

I was taken to an estate in south London, where the traffickers lived. I looked after three children, cooked, cleaned, did all the domestic tasks. I received no payment.

The man who had brought me to the UK spent a great deal of time going back and forth to Nigeria.

The wife was also at work all day so I was left on my own in the house with three children, and after a few months family friends also left their children so I found myself looking after seven children non-stop.

I remember on one occasion when the wife was away, the husband returned from work and attempted to rape me. I managed to struggle free but I was terrified.

The man was scared that when his wife returned, I would reveal what he had tried to do, so he sent me to stay at his sister's, telling his wife I was a slack worker and he had had enough.

His sister took no pity. She beat me over five times a day until I was continuously in tears. Eventually I was badly beaten, thrown out of the house.

I didn't even have the will to escape and the sister finally took me back to the trafficker's house.


After some months the trafficker allowed Dayo to attend a weekly two-hour computer course at a local college where a tutor helped her contact a help group:

I spent a few days with the group, sleeping at different houses every night, until one day I went to church and by chance saw the traffickers again, who kidnapped me in their car and took me back to their home.

From that point onwards, I was not left on my own for a second. The traffickers feared I would leave.

But the police now had the address of the trafficker's home. They paid a visit to the house where they were told by the trafficker's wife that I was a sister.

When the police asked me if I was okay, and if this was true, I was too scared of the trafficker to tell the truth.


Dayo finally managed to escape after the trafficker tried to return her to Nigeria in 2003:

I refused to get on the plane. I was taken into immigration services at Heathrow along with the trafficker where both of us were interviewed.

The immigration officers did not believe anything I said. The trafficker claimed that I was his sister and that I had been on holiday and was going back to Nigeria.

They let the trafficker go and held me in a centre. After five days I was taken back to the airport for a second time to be deported.

As a last resort I called my college tutor who put me in touch with the Asylum Aid group. They contacted immigration and prevented the deportation, claiming that I was an unaccompanied minor who was an asylum seeker in the UK.

I remain in the asylum system.


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