2019/10/27

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Chinese women forced into sex slavery to save indebted husbands

  


Chinese women have been forced to throw themselves at the mercy of traffickers who transport them across the world to pay off their husbands' debts.


In the wake of the shocking discovery of 39 people dead in the back of a lorry in Essex, police are reportedly probing whether some of the victims were being sent to work as prostitutes in the UK.


Others might have been forced into slave labour jobs in nail salons, massage parlours and restaurants, it has also been suggested.


Although the nationalities of the victims are not yet clear, it is known their journey began in China and it is suspected at least two of those who died were Vietnamese.


As the details of the tragic story emerge, a charity advocating for women refugees has shone the spotlight on the perils women travelling to the UK from east Asia face.


Although the circumstances of the eight women found dead in the Grays industrial estate on Wednesday morning are not yet clear, Women for Refugee Women have reported on countless cases of trafficking from China to the UK.


A large majority of women at Yarl's Wood had suffered gender based crime, the charity said 


Those from China make up the largest group of women in UK immigration detention centres such as Yarl's Wood in Bedford, where 85% of those spoken to by the charity had suffered brutal gender based crimes.


These included rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, forced prostitution and female genital mutilation.


Many of the 420 women from China locked up by immigration forces in the UK in 2018 had found themselves at the mercy of traffickers because of mounting family debt.


"For a lot of the women we spoke to it all began when a family member fell into debt in China," said Sam Hudson, communications executive for the charity.


"Their husbands were drug addicts or alcoholic or engaged in gambling. Perhaps a family member was ill and medical treatment bills built up.


The lorry in which 39 people were found dead on Wednesday 


"The woman of the family resort to traffickers who bring them to the UK for prostitition.


"They are brought over in a mixtures of lorries, boats and various other means of smuggling. One woman was brought on a plane and dumped at the airport."


Another detainee at Yarl's Wood told Women for Refugee Women how her husband began to beat her, cut her with knives and threatened to kill her after he had fallen into debt


"I was afraid of him and I was afraid of the leaders of the gang he owed money to," she told the charity.


"One day they captured me and said I would have to go and work overseas to pay back his debt.


"The journey to the UK was awful. They did terrible things to me. When I arrived here a man came and picked me up. He took me to a house with other women.


"I thought I would be cleaning but they said I had to work as a prostitute. They made me have sex with more than ten men every day. My body and my mind got so sick, I just wanted to end it all."


Horrific stories of sexual abuse were told by women at Yarl's Wood 


Another women told the organisation how she had been forced to have sex with men who came to the house in the UK where she was imprisoned.


If she refused, she would be beaten and starved, sometimes going three days without food and water.


Her ordeal only came to an end about a year later when immigration enforcement raided the house.


"They dragged me out and took me to the police station. Later, I was put in another van.


"It drove for a long time through the night and ended up at Yarls Wood. I was taken from one hell to another.


While most of the people Women for Refugee Women spoke to found their way into the authority's hands after escaping their captors, a third ended up in Yarl's Wood following immigration raids.


Ms Hudson echoed the Home Affairs Select Committees March 2019 concerns that "vulnerable people" were being failed by the authorities.


Tributes left in the industrial park for the victims


"Instead of being given the support they need, the women we spoke to were put in immigration detention," she said.


"A survivor of trafficking should be given safe accommodation and independent support to help them rebuild their lives.


"They were routinely being detained which is incredibly harmful for a women's wellbeing.


"It has a disastrous impact on people's mental health, particularly because detention is indefinite."


Ms Hudson said that the stories of Chinese women they had spoken to at Yarl's Wood were the worst members of the charity had heard during its history.


However, once the detainees are given legal support and their situations are made clear to the authorities they are often quickly released, the communication executive said.


They then go through the National Referral Mechanism which determines whether a person is a victim of sex trafficking and should be given space in a safe house.


Work is ongoing to find out who the people in the lorry were


While she is keen to point out that the women found dead in Essex could have arrived there for many different reasons, Ms Hudson believes the 39 deaths are symbolic of a larger issue.


"I really see this as part of the bigger problem of really hostile immigration policies in the UK which are closing down safe and legal routes," she added.


"We're forcing people into these situations of utter danger. These tragedies are preventable and this instance should be a wake up call."


When asked about migrant women from China held in the UK, a spokesperson for the Home Office said detention was an important party of the immigration system, but must be "fair, dignified and protect the most vulnerable."


They added: We have made significant improvements to our approach in recent years, but remain committed to going further.


"We continue to explore alternatives to detention, increase transparency around immigration detention, further improve the support available for vulnerable detainees and initiate a new drive on detainee dignity.


Any person we encounter who claims they are a victim of trafficking will, with their consent, be referred to the National Referral Mechanism. Their claim will then be considered by a trained specialist.


Source:  https://www.mirror.co.uk

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