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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
'Dream offer lured me into prostitution'
Katerina - a young woman from Romania - explains how she was forced into prostitution in the UK.

woman and car driver
Katerina was forced to work as a prostitute
When I was 18 a friend put me in touch with a guy in London named Alex. He told me that he would pay for me to visit the UK where there were lots of job opportunities. It sounded like a dream come true, so I took him up on the offer.

I was smuggled into the UK on a false passport, but Alex soon made it clear to me how I was expected to work to repay the 1,500 he had paid to bring me to London.

He threatened me and told me he had connections with the Russian mafia and could easily obtain a handgun.

Although I resisted his attempts to make me work as a prostitute, I was beaten and raped and held prisoner in a flat until I agreed to go out and work to pay off my debt to him.

When I missed one payment I was dragged from the street into the boot of a waiting car. Once again Alex held me prisoner and again I was repeatedly raped and beaten.

Family threatened

I was told that I would be sold to a group of Russians as a prostitute, but fortunately I had friends who persuaded Alex to sell me to them instead. They arranged a meeting to discuss this, but they also informed the police and Alex was arrested.

But that was not the end of my ordeal. Alex threatened to have my family killed if I cooperated with the police investigation. At that time there were insufficient laws to prosecute traffickers so he walked free.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The problem is not just with the suppliers but with the market
Simon, London

Fortunately I was then put in touch with the Poppy Project which provides accommodation and support for women who have been trafficked. They referred me to a counselling service and I was given lots of support and access to legal advice and interpreting.

I am happy in Britain now, but I still fear for the safety of my family back home because Alex has many connections. I miss my family very much and would like to go home some day.

For now I am going to concentrate on my studies so I can become a nurse.



SEE ALSO
UK warned over child trafficking
29 Aug 06 |  UK Politics

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