Precious is a 19 year old woman from West Africa. She was referred to the TARA Service by the Scottish Refugee Council in early 2015. She is still currently supported by the service, although plans are in place for her to exit the service. Please note that some personal details have been changed to protect the confidentiality and safety of Precious.
Precious is a 19 year old woman who comes from a large city in West Africa. As a child she was physically abused by her step mother and, following the death of her father, sexually assaulted by her step mother’s partner. She was trafficked into domestic servitude as a 6 year old and then as a 10 year old. On both occasions she was promised that she could attend school but was prevented from doing so.
During her attempts to escape her abusive home life she was groomed by the woman who would ultimately traffick her to the UK. This woman told her she would help her to get a better life by arranging for her to work for her sister. Precious presumed this would be in her country. She was 15 yrs old at this time. The original trafficker arranged for her to have her hair done and for her eyebrows and a beauty spot to be tattooed onto her face to make her look older. She arranged for Precious to attend an office, have her fingerprints taken and to sign paperwork. This was done under a false name and date of birth that made her seem significantly older. Precious was also subjected to a ritual oath which bound her to never say no to the trafficker and to maintain the ‘legend’ she was given to report to authorities if questioned.
Precious was escorted to the airport and then travelled by herself to the UK. She had been given a letter, money and told to say she had medical problems if questioned on arrival. She was stopped on entry but provided the paperwork and told them what she had been taught to say by the traffickers. She was allowed to enter. She called the number she had been given and was then transported to a house in London where she met an ‘Aunty’ and 2 other West African women. That night she was raped. She was told that she had to do this ‘work’ for 3 years to pay off her debt. She and the other women would be taken by the traffickers to parties and clubs across the UK, including London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Precious was always locked in the house until one night in 2015 when she was unwell and on her own they forgot to lock the front door and she escaped. She was further abused by a man who offered to assist her. When she was 17 another family arranged for her to come to Glasgow. When Precious found out she was pregnant she became very frightened that she would die in childbirth. (Her mother had died in childbirth and she had been told that she was responsible.)
At this stage she sought assistance from the authorities and disclosed her real age although the false name and DOB forced upon her by the traffickers continued to be used by the UK authorities.
Despite her vulnerability Precious has formally reported her exploitation to Police Scotland. The TARA Service were able to provide her with a place of safety and help her access early legal advice. With the help of the TARA team, the ANCHOR service and a Community Psychiatric Nurse her mood is much improved and her ongoing support from TARA significantly reduced. Precious was also supported by the team to access ante natal care and to work with social work services. We have also worked with Precious and her solicitor around the issue of her age and the false name used on the official documentation by the traffickers. This name is still used in formal correspondence and along with the tattoos acts as constant reminder of her exploitation and the control the traffickers had over her. She now lives independently with her children, has a healthy relationship, and hopes to return to education to continue her studies.