Thursday, 31 March 2011

Please take action: HIV positive victim of sex trafficking and rape faces imminent deportation from the UK

This is an appeal from the ngo Eaves Housing - please take action (see below)

Felicia Adjei, a vulnerable woman who was trafficked into the UK and brutally exploited in forced prostitution is facing removal to Ghana tomorrow. She is currently waiting in an immigration detention centre. 

Felicia comes from a very poor family who lived in a rural village and experienced extensive physical abuse from her father as a young girl. Eight years ago her father sent her to the UK. She thought she would study or work and send money home to support her family. She thought her father’s friends had arranged legal paperwork. She had no idea what she was about to experience. Felicia was held in a house for nearly three years. During this time men came to the house at least 3 times per week and forced her to have sex. Sometimes she was given drugs in her food. She began refusing to eat or drink but she was forced to do so with violence. Sometimes she wasn’t drugged and was physically forced to have sex with men using various sex toys that she has never seen before in her country. Sometimes she would not see the person raping her because she was drugged. If she struggled then she was beaten up by the men.  She would often bleed heavily when she was forced to have sex and suffered with severe stomach pains but was never allowed to get any medical treatment. Felicia was not paid for the work she was forced into. As a result of this trauma she is now living with HIV and became pregnant due to rape.

Felicia has only just begun to recover from the things that happened to her. She cannot recover if she is forced to return to Ghana. Not only are the relevant services not in place but the social stigma and pressures she will experience will prevent her from recovering and may endanger her life. Felicia is afraid to return to Ghana because she became pregnant out of marriage. This is considered taboo in her small village. She remembers when a young woman from the village became pregnant after being raped. The young woman was insulted and physically abused for years. The young woman became very depressed and later committed suicide. Felicia is frightened that the same thing will happen to her and does not want her life to end in this way.

Felicia is also HIV positive. People in Ghana will see this as dishonour to the family. Attitudes in Ghana towards people with HIV are such that that Felicia will face only rejection, physical abuse, and insult and will be shunned and treated as an outcast. Felicia believes returning to Ghana will have a detrimental effect not only on her mental health, but her life will also be at risk.

According to the United Nations:

… the government of Ghana lack[s] shelter facilities for victims of sex trafficking. With the interior ministers approval a trafficking victim may remain permanently in Ghana if deemed to be in the victim’s best interest though no victims were given such residency during the last year. There was no formal referral process to transfer victims in protective custody to other facilities.[1]
For these reasons it is critical that Felicia is not removed from the UK but is allowed to continue her recovery in a safe and supportive environment. The Poppy Project is calling on the government to suspend the orders to remove Felicia, to release her from the detention centre and to allow her to return to the specialist shelter where she has been supported.


Contact the airline: Felicia is set to be removed on Virgin Airlines Flight VS657 London (LHR) to Accra (ACC) at 10.20pm 1st April. Contact them on 0844 811 0000/ 0844 209 7777 or by fax 0844 209 8708 (

Contact your MP: Ask your MP to intercede on Felicia’s behalf. Find their contact details here:

– NOTES – 

The POPPY Project provides vital support and accommodation for women trafficked to the UK for forced prostitution or domestic servitude. 

The POPPY Project is run by Eaves, a women’s charity working to combat all aspects of violence against women through accommodation, support services, research, education and lobbying.

For further information about Eaves’ Poppy Project, contact Abigail Stepnitz National Coordinator Poppy Project on 07738 986501 or

Report suggests domestic worker abuse is linked to mental health issues

Psychological problems of employers are a leading cause of violence or abuse perpetrated against domestic workers in Lebanon, according to an European Union-funded report published yesterday, 30 March 2011.

While existing social prejudice and legal loopholes allow for such behavior, the personal mental health problems of the “madame” are also responsible, suggests the report entitled  An Exploratory Study of Psychoanalytic and Social Factors in the Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers by Female Employers in Lebanon.

“The reason why some women abuse [domestic workers] and others don’t … could be an unconscious problem,” said Lebanese American University professor and report author Ray Jureidini, who conducted the study on behalf of Lebanese NGO KAFA: Enough violence and Exploitation.

Read more in The Daily Star - Lebanon News:
A further report Trafficking of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon: A Legal Analysis By Kathleen Hamill has also been published. We'll let you know if they become available on the web.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Migrant domestic workers more vulnerable on a diplomatic visa

Domestic workers who come to the UK in the employment of diplomats come under different rules to those who come with none diplomatic employers.  Unlike other domestic workers, diplomatic domestic workers are not permitted to change employer outside of the diplomatic mission with which they entered. Clearly in cases where workers have suffered extreme abuse at the hands of a diplomat, including trafficking into forced labour, it is unrealistic to think it is an option for them to find a job with that same diplomat’s colleague.
This leaves domestic workers who accompany diplomats to the UK without any recourse to change employer without breaking the law and so encourages abuse by unscrupulous employers. It also leaves many diplomatic domestic workers in a position where they continue to endure unacceptable conditions of forced labour as they have no way of leaving legally. Others leave often without knowing the law and become undocumented and so vulnerable to further abuse.
Diplomatic employers’ immunity to prosecution only makes the situation worse, as these employers are less likely to comply with basic UK employment law. Many diplomatic domestic workers are unable to return home as they haven’t been paid for long periods of time and need these unpaid wages to pay off debts.
Kalayaan is campaigning for diplomatic domestic workers to have the same basic protection, to change employers, as other domestic workers, allowing them to escape abuse.

Monday, 21 March 2011

BBC news - Pastor jailed for trafficking people into domestic ''slavery'

A church pastor has been jailed for 11 and a half years after being found guilty of trafficking people into the UK for use as domestic "slaves" at her home in Barking, east London.

Lucy Adeniji brought two children and a 21-year-old woman to the UK from Africa illegally and used them as servants.

Adeniji told the victims' parents they would have a better life in the UK, but instead viciously beat them if they failed to please her.

The abuse only came to light when one of the victims escaped from Adeniji's home after being beaten.

She was convicted of 17 different counts at Isleworth Crown Court.

See for more information

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Harrow woman convicted of keeping Tanzanian woman as domestic slave

A former hospital director has been convicted of abusing a domestic worker in her employment and forcing her to effectively work as a slave, in what is thought to be the UK's first prosecution for such an offence.

Mwanahamisi Mruke was trafficked from Tanzania to Britain and made to work 18-hour days for over three years carrying out chores at her home in Harrow.

Had Mruke been paid at the minimum wage for all the hours she worked for Khan during her employment of three years and four months, she would have received £107,062.72, the court heard.

Read more on the Guardian website

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Three million ‘maids’ abused in Middle East

A survey by the Saudi magazine Sayidaty entitled ‘Maids Rights’ reveals that more than three million maids in the Arab world are subjected to conditions akin to slavery .

And the evidence is that their situation is worsening as the people's revolution sweeps the Arab world.

An Indonesian domestic worker in Jordan said, "If you go to the Indonesian embassy in Jordan you will see hundreds of women who ran away from their employer."

See Al Jazeera news arfticle for more

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Cecilia's experience - taken to Kalayaan

The next day they took me to lots of different offices on lots of buses, I couldn’t believe how far we travelled and how busy everything was.

I was so confused and knew I would never find my way by myself. I think the people in the offices were trying to help but we often had to wait a long time. Lots of other people were waiting who also wanted help. After a few days they took me to a place called Kalayaan. In their offices were many other ladies who also worked in people’s houses.

As I was waiting outside I spoke to some of the ladies in my language who told me not to worry, that Kalayaan would look at my visa and everything would be okay. I was very happy I had managed to take my passport with me. However when we were seen and the lady looked in my passport I knew from her face that something was wrong.

To protect the confidentiality of individual domestic workers who come to Kalayaan, Cecilia’s story is made up of a composite of real case studies.

Monday, 14 March 2011

How human trafficking can be a middle class crime

“Domestic servitude ... is humiliating, is a violation of people’s dignity and is deeply traumatising.”  along with other advocates against trafficking for forced labour, Jenny Moss, community advocate at Kalayaan speaks about some migrant domestic workers experiences on Euronews website

Bridget Anderson, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, said the many middle class people who do not consider themselves racist speak of domestic workers in a different light. She read an example, the words of a piano teacher from London, speaking of domestic workers:

“They’re foreign and they’re illegal and they’re scared and timid and so they’re not going to take up space. They’re going to be very, very small and that is generally easier to live with than someone who feels that this is their home. They’re in really bad situations… They’re terrified.”

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cecilia's experience - escape and shelter

I lost track of time but as it was beginning to get dark a man stopped and asked if I was ok. He spoke my language. I was so happy to hear someone speaking my language but I was also too scared to talk to him because he was a man I didn’t know and anyway my employers had always told me never to trust anyone I met in the UK. However I was also tired and cold and hungry and felt I had no choice.

I told him I was not okay and that I had nowhere to go.  He told me to go to the police station but I think he knew I would not do it because then he told me he knew somewhere I could go for a little while.

He took me to a restaurant and seemed to know the people who worked there because he spoke with them for some time. Then they bought me food and told me I could sleep there while they tried to help me. They lived upstairs and were a family.

I was still very scared but since it was mostly the women who spoke to me I thought maybe it would be okay. One of the girls even gave me some of her clothes as they could see how cold I was in what I was wearing.

To protect the confidentiality of individual domestic workers who come to Kalayaan, Cecilia’s story is made up of a composite of real case studies.

Friday, 11 March 2011

New report on trafficking for domestic servitude published

Unprotected Work, Invisible Exploitation: Trafficking for the Purpose of Domestic Servitude, a report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has just been published and released in London this week.
It reveals that this hidden form of trafficking can be as damaging as trafficking for sexual exploitation.

“Domestic servitude is one of the worst forms of trafficking in human beings,” says Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, OSCE special representative for combating trafficking in human beings. “It can take place because of the context of an ‘under-regulated sector.’” The domestic work sector needs better regulation.”

Read the report here

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Ceclia's experience - abuse, escape

After a long time, maybe several months I realised that I had not been paid. I was very embarrassed to ask, but I eventually asked my female employer. She looked annoyed and asked if I did not appreciate how much money they had spent to make my papers and bring me to the UK. I felt too shy to ask again and just carried on working.

I had no day off and no time to myself. I often felt hungry and cold. After I had been here maybe four or six months it must have been a weekend, the family were at home, the female employer was out with the children and the male employer came to me and told me he wanted me to sleep with him and that it was part of my duty. If I refused he told me he would tell his wife who would be very angry and they would tell the police I had stolen their things. He said he would also tell my family that I had run away with a man in the UK. He told me that on the visa I had I was not allowed to leave them and if I did leave the police would look for me and send me back to them. I had no choice. This carried on over the next year or so whenever the rest of his family were out. I thought about killing myself and didn’t know what I could do. I wasn’t managing to send any money home and had no contact with my family since I came to the UK.

One day I was cleaning and I saw a pile of passports on the desk. I looked inside them and one of them had my photo in. I decided that this was my only chance to escape. No one else was in the house at the time. I grabbed my passport and a few things in a plastic bag and climbed out of a ground floor window. I just ran and did not know where I was going.

Eventually when I was exhausted and tired I sat down on a bench and cried.

To protect the confidentiality of individual domestic workers who come to Kalayaan, Cecilia’s story is made up of a composite of real case studies.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Cecilia's experience - arriving in the UK

I wasn’t involved in making my passport and visa. I had to get some photographs taken and go with someone from my employer’s office to appointments at embassies. I didn’t really understand what was going on. I was told not to worry and to just answer yes when they told me to.

When I arrived in the UK it was not like I expected. It was cold and I did not have warm clothes or any money to buy any. I could not understand anything that anyone said or know how to go anywhere.  

My employer’s house was not big like their house in our country. They had four bedrooms and said that they needed to keep one empty so that I should sleep on a mattress in a small room attached to the kitchen where the washing machine and laundry is kept. 

I was expected to keep the house clean, prepare and clean up after meals and look after the two young children. It was a lot of work, especially as the children were demanding my attention all the time and I was expected to go to them at night if they cried before they woke up their parents. I was not really sure what I was supposed to eat or when so I mostly just ate leftovers. I missed my family but I thought it would be okay as I needed to support them.

To protect the confidentiality of individual domestic workers who come to Kalayaan, Cecilia’s story is made up of a composite of real case studies.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Cecilia's experience -coming to the UK with diplomatic employers

'Cecilia' (not her real name) arrived in the UK around three years ago, accompanying her diplomatic employers; she secured the job through a cousin.

'When I first heard of the job I was so excited. I thought this was a wonderful opportunity. I am from a poor family and was unable to finish school. I was in my early 20s and felt that I had no opportunities and I wanted to be able to send money to my family so that my brothers and sisters could continue to study. 

My employers told me that we would travel to a different country and they would arrange everything. They told me that there I would earn a lot of money to support my family and that after the first two years I would be able to study part time. I believed that because they are wealthy and respected people I should trust them and that everything would be okay. I didn't know how much I would be paid but I felt unable to ask or question them.

To protect the confidentiality of individual domestic workers who come to Kalayaan, Cecilia’s story is made up of a composite of real case studies.