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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
'I was trafficked at the age of 15'
Prostitute
Trafficked women have been found throughout the UK
Like many trafficked women forced to work in the UK's sex industry Hannah, now 18, was first sold as a prostitute overseas. Here, she tells her story.

At the age of 15, orphaned and living with extended family in north Africa, Hannah was sent to take up a job offer.

"I did not know what kind of work," says Hannah. Neither did the relative who set it up.

In fact, there was no job - the invitation had been extended by a trafficker who was among a group of men who raped Hannah when she arrived.

Over the next two years he sold her for sex - against her will - in a number of African countries. She feared she would be killed or beaten if she resisted.

"I was terrified and traumatised, I just wanted to die - I had no control."

'No idea'

About two years ago the trafficker decided to move on again - this time bringing Hannah to the UK.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Human trafficking - movement of people for 'slavery'
Most cases in UK involve sexually exploited women
About 4,000 trafficking victims in UK sex industry
Victims have been found in every part of the UK
Majority of UK victims from Eastern Europe and Asia
Around world more than 100 countries involved in trafficking

Used to being moved around, she did not know what was happening.

"I did not know where I was going until I got to the airport. I had no idea."

Her ordeal continued once she arrived.

"The same thing was happening. I was being made to sleep with men.

"I was kept in a flat, but it was cold like I had never known cold before." She soon fell ill.

'So terrified'

After about one month in the UK, Hannah escaped by jumping from the trafficker's car. She spent the next two days sleeping rough.

Trafficking route to the UK

"I felt confused and alone. Somehow I was happy I had got away, but I did not know what to do and I was so terrified."

Help eventually came from a stranger: "I was staying on a station and was crying and asking for help." One woman stopped. "I told her everything."

The woman took Hannah to the Crossroads Women's Centre in north London, where she was offered support and advice.

Suicide watch

Despite escaping her trafficker, life is still far from easy for Hannah.

After beginning an asylum application, she was charged with deception and failing to produce documents.

I don't have family there, I don't have my Mum and Dad

"They put me in prison as if I was a criminal," says Hannah. "I thought I was going to be there for some time. I was stressed, scared and on suicide watch."

She was released from prison after one week and given a place to stay, but things remain uncertain.

She has lost contact with her family - including two younger sisters - and does not know how to find them.

'Stressed and worried'

Awaiting a decision on her application for asylum, Hannah knows she could be dispersed to another city - or returned to Africa.

"They wanted to me to go to Liverpool and I'm very stressed and worried. They may even put me on a plane tomorrow and send me home."

Although she does not like England, she sees asylum as her best chance. She wants to avoid being returned to her country - and the chance of being trafficked again.

"The same thing may happen again. I don't have family there, I don't have my Mum and Dad. I have not been there for four years now - I don't have a life there."


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