Modern slavery: Mother trafficked into UK tells of escape from family

Abbianca Makoni
·1-min read
Amnesty International activists wearing T-shirts reading 'end modern slavery' protest against human trafficking in Athens, Greece: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images
Amnesty International activists wearing T-shirts reading 'end modern slavery' protest against human trafficking in Athens, Greece: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images

A mother who was trafficked into the UK after being “imprisoned” by her employers today told of her escape from modern slavery.

Leslie, 32, said she worked “what felt like 24 hours a day,” with “little to no pay” and received “left­overs” for dinner when she was employed by a family in Dubai as a domestic worker.

She had left her home country of the Philippines with a plan to send back money to support three children.

She said: “Cameras were everywhere watching me and all the doors and windows would be locked. There was just no escape.”

After a year she was taken to the UK with her employers, who held her passport. “In the morning, I tried to escape but I couldn’t open the door as it was locked,” she said. “But in the afternoon they asked me to take out the bins and I didn’t know how to open the door, so I asked them to show me.

“The next day I woke up early and remembered what they taught me, unlocked the door and ran.”

Leslie slept in a park for almost a week, begging people for help. She received help from a fellow Filipino who took her in for several months, before she moved to a safe house for people who have been ­trafficked.

Her case worker then referred her to Beam, an organisation raising money to pay for job training for disadvantaged people, and she is now retraining as a beautician. She is too frightened to report those who held her captive.

In 2019, 10,627 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the Government’s National Referral Mechanism, a 52 per cent increase from 2018.

Leslie is not her real name.

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