Page last updated at 06:29 GMT, Monday, 19 March 2007

Duped into selling herself for sex

By Liz Lewis
BBC News, Gloucestershire

Women are brought from the brothel in Cheltenham
The Poppy Project is helping Dean Sim rebuild her life

"I do not want to do the sex business but I had no choice," Dean Sim Lin from Malaysia told detectives who found her cowering in a brothel in Cheltenham.

Dean Sim, a mother of two, came to the UK after paying 15,000 to a fixer in Malaysia who promised her a legitimate job in the UK.

On arrival in London she was dumped with no money, housing or job and found herself living on the streets.

In China Town a "friendly" woman told her about a cleaning job in Cheltenham.

As the UK marks the 200th anniversary of the Parliamentary Act to abolish the slave trade, thousands of people are still being brought into the country, ultimately to work as slaves.

Left alone

Like many of the women who are trafficked into the UK, Dean Sim thought she would be able to quickly pay back the fixer and begin sending money home to support her family.

"I have a son and a daughter who live with my mother in Malaysia and they need the money," she told Gloucestershire police.

In October 2006 Dean Sim was chaperoned on the flight to Heathrow by the man who had helped broker the deal for her at home.

She told police she was nervous but happy about her new prospects.

But, after negotiating immigration with her, the man took her to a hotel in London, stole her fake passport and left her alone.

"I was very scared - I had nothing - I could not contact home," she said.

After being thrown out of the hotel for not paying her bill Dean Sim made her way to China Town where she was told about the Cheltenham cleaning job.

'I was desperate'

With nowhere to sleep, no English and no money she had little choice but to ring the number.

The house in Dunalley Street she was taken to was already under surveillance by officers working for Operation Pentameter.

The initiative was set up to smash the illegal exploitation of people who are brought to the UK and kept as virtual prisoners in brothels.

"When I arrived (in Cheltenham by train) I was met by the boss who brought me and a Chinese girl to the house where I met two girls from Hong Kong and a receptionist," she told detectives.

"I was told I would be doing massage."

Although Dean Sim was not raped or physically forced into having sex she was told that in order to pay back the money quickly to have some to send home she should offer sex.

"I was desperate to send money home so I agreed," said Dean Sim.

Poppy Project

On her first day at work the two girls from Hong Kong were taken away from the house and she did not see them again.

She was afraid of what might happen to her and later that day agreed to sex with three clients.

The next day more men were brought to have sex with her but on her third day in the brothel the police raided the house, setting her free.

The brothel keeper would eventually be jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Although relieved to be out of the brothel, Dean Sim spoke of being terrified about not being able to pay off her debt.

"I cannot go home till the money is paid," she told the detectives. "I am so scared but I don't want my parents to worry."

After being cared for by the police in Gloucester Dean Sim Lin was taken to the Poppy Project in London - which helps trafficked women with immigration status and work and is the only place of its kind in the UK.

She is now rebuilding her life with their support.


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