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An author who was the victim of sex trafficking hopes that Sir Mo Farah’s announcement that he was smuggled into the country as a child will help male victims “come forward”.
The four-time Olympic champion said in BBC documentary The Real Mo Farah that he was trafficked into the UK at the age of nine from Somaliland, and that his real name was Hussein Abdi Kahin.
He has been praised for sharing his story, and a victim of sexual trafficking has said that his revelation could encourage other men to open up about similar experiences.
Caitlin Spencer, which is an alias and whose personal details have not been included to protect her identity, wrote the book, Please Let Me Go, in 2017 about her experience as a victim of sex trafficking.
She told the PA news agency: “I do think, with him being so high profile, it will help a lot of males come forward because I don’t see a lot of that.
“I think that will make a difference.”
Ms Spencer said that she was regularly sex trafficked from the age of 14, and it went on into her early 30s.
She came across a man who was looking for models, who she phoned, and that is how she was “recruited into it”.
“He came to my parents’ house, took photos of me without my clothes on and he used that as a blackmail tactic,” she said.
“He said if I didn’t do what he told me, he would tell my parents.
“It’s hard to explain how it makes you feel – it’s scary.”
She added that it’s “not easy” to be open about trafficking.
“I’ve talked about it a lot – I’ve written a book, I’ve spoken in Parliament, I’ve done interviews,” she said.
“So I can talk about it quite easily now. At first I didn’t want to talk about it to anybody. It comes with time.”
Ms Spencer added that Sir Mo’s PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, “made the difference to his whole life” as he “went above and beyond” to help Sir Mo get British citizenship.
The long distance runner confided in Mr Watkinson about his situation, with the teacher applying for his pupil’s British citizenship which was described as a “long process” by Sir Mo.
On July 25 2000, he was recognised as a British Citizen.
Charities have shared messages of support for the Olympic hero and have also applauded the teacher who helped him.
The Human Trafficking Foundation told PA: “In Sir Mo’s experience, it was a teacher who recognised the signs of abuse, highlighting the importance of knowing the signs of human trafficking and how to respond.
“By being identified as a victim of trafficking at an early age and offered stability and support to thrive, Sir Mo went on to become a four time Olympic gold medallist and received a knighthood from the Queen.
“If every victim of human trafficking was given secure immigration status and long-term support, I wonder what they could achieve.”
The group added that “it takes enormous courage for a victim of human trafficking to come forward and we applaud Sir Mo’s bravery” in raising awareness of domestic servitude.
Save the Children UK, whom Sir Mo has been an ambassador for since 2017, said it is “incredibly proud” of him for sharing his story.
We are incredibly proud that Sir @Mo_Farah has bravely shared his heart-breaking story of how he was trafficked to the UK as a child.
Since becoming our ambassador in 2017 he has campaigned tirelessly to stand up for children's rights.
— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) July 12, 2022
In a tweet, the charity said: “We are incredibly proud that Sir @Mo_Farah has bravely shared his heart-breaking story of how he was trafficked to the UK as a child.
“Since becoming our ambassador in 2017 he has campaigned tirelessly to stand up for children’s rights.
“His story highlights the reality for millions of children who are subjected to trafficking around the world. We urge the UK government to respect and uphold the rights of all children, however they arrive in the UK”.