Charity World Vision highlights its support for victims of modern-day-slavery after Sir Mo Farah reveals he was trafficked to the UK as a child
The revelation that Olympic running champion Sir Mo Farah was trafficked to the UK as a child and forced to work as a domestic servant has highlighted the horrific problem of modern-day slavery.
Sir Mo’s brave decision to tell his story demonstrates the importance of the work of World Vision UK, a global children’s charity, to help stop youngsters from facing the same plight.
While the running sensation’s story may have had a happy ending, many people who are trafficked are forced into slavery and prostitution with little chance of escape.
One girl who did escape was Samira (not her real name) who lives in a remote village in West Bengal. Aged 14, Samira, whose family could no longer afford to send her to school, sent her to live and work with her sisters in Mumbai.
One day, Samira’s brother-in-law said he had found her a “good opportunity” – before handing her over to traffickers who sent her to a brothel, where she faced a brutal three months.
“I would only be given food if I worked … They would beat me with belts – the brothel owners and even customers – when I refused to work. I was forced to drink beer and alcohol. They burnt my hands with cigarette butts… I cried a lot and begged them to let me go home… I overheard my owner say that it was my brother-in-law who sold me to them,” says Samira.
What I went through, I would not want any other girl or woman to go through… I suffered a lot… It was a very, very tough time… In the morning, there would be 12-14 men and, in the night, around 15 men… After working the whole day, we would be taken to a building in the middle of nowhere to get rest.
Samira’s escape came when she was taken with a few girls to work in a hotel which was raided by police. Her brother-in-law and brothel-keeper were at the hotel and were taken into custody and eventually sent to prison.
Following her rescue, Samira spent some months in shelter homes in Mumbai and Kolkata where she began the healing process. During that time another sister and brother-in-law applied for her guardianship so she could go home.
“When I first came back, I only stayed at home. The villagers would laugh and poke fun at me. I was ashamed to go out. My biggest fear when coming back home was that my dada (sister’s husband) would beat me. But he gave me a big hug,” she says.
“The day I met Samira I could tell that she needed to talk to someone. She was very quiet at first but then opened up to me. She has experienced a lot of pain because of her traffickers,” said Mousumi, who offered Samira several vocational courses. Samira chose courses on becoming a beautician and hotel management.
World Vision aims to tackle the root causes of trafficking by a combination of multi-sectorial approaches ranging from prevention and protection to prosecution and advocacy work.
Mark Sheard, CEO of World Vision UK says:
We have to remember that, although Farah’s story has a happy ending, many victims of trafficking are not so fortunate and face years of servitude while being forced to live in appalling conditions.
We need to continue working tirelessly to fight child trafficking. We thank all of our supporters who help to fund our work with survivors of modern-day slavery and urge others to consider donating to World Vision UK and to help with our awareness raising and advocacy work.
Written by: Jo Duckles