There are an estimated 136,000 people living in conditions of modern slavey in the United Kingdom (GSI 2018). UK children continue to be subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Children in the care system and unaccompanied migrant children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.The United Kingdom remains a significant destination for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. 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.
Jasmin was 13 years old when she was introduced to a man named Nav who was in his 20s. Jasmin began taking drugs and missing school to be with him. One day, Nav raped Jasmin and took photographs. For a year Jasmin was forced to sleep with men to pay off Nav’s debts.
When I was 13 years old a couple of 15-year-old boys in my school started to show interest in me. I felt special, they would buy me takeaways, cigarettes, alcohol. I thought it was so cool having older friends. I started to meet them in the local park and hang out with them. They introduced me to their friend Nav who was in his 20s. he would drive me around in his flashy car and bought me mobile phone, perfume and clothes. I couldn’t believe it. He `was interested in me? I felt so grown up having an older boyfriend.
I started hanging out with my friends less and even started to miss school. Nav persuaded me to try drugs. I loved him and wanted to do anything to hold on to him. It wasn’t long before I became addicted to them. I did it because Nav said I was special and that he loved me and that he was going to marry me when I was older.
But one day everything changed. Nav invited me to go with him to a flat, I trusted him I so went, but he raped me and filmed it and took photographs. He started threatening me and said he would send the photos and the films to my family and put them online. He said he would make sure I had a bad reputation unless I did as I was told. He said that I would be shamed, and I would bring dishonour to my family. Nav said he was doing this for us and that he did love me. He said he owed money to his friends and if I really loved him too, I would help pay off his debt by having sex with his friends. I was confused and pressurized and I felt I had no choice but to comply with his demands for the next 12 months he passed me around to his friends and other men. It was awful. I would be taken to different houses, flats and hotels where several men would be waiting for me. They would beat me and burn me with cigarettes and film me. Sometimes I would be driven to other nearby towns. I started to rely on drugs to block out what was happening to me. I even started stealing money from home to feed my drug habit. Nav wanted me to invite my friends and even my younger sister to the flat, so the men could abuse them too.
I became really depressed and unable to ask for help, so I started to self-harm. I thought I would be judged and blamed, what would my friends, my family and people in my community say? My teachers noticed I was missing school, they told my parents. I told Nav that I couldn’t miss school anymore because my parents and teachers were keeping an eye on me. I thought this would be a good reason to have less contact with him, but he just got really angry and told me to run away from home. He threatened to beat me up and threatened to harm my family too if I didn’t. I was so desperate to escape my situation that I eventually gained enough courage to ask for help. With the support of a friend I contacted a woman’s group. I told them everything. And they didn’t blame me and said that I was a victim of sexual exploitation. I never imagined that this could have happened to me. I wish I had asked for help straight away. If this is happening to you or someone you know, please tell someone. Don’t suffer in silence.
Narrative produced and provided by Muslim Women’s Network UK