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Sex slaves are being failed by the Home Office, report reveals

VICTIMS of modern slavery and sex trafficking are being “failed” by the Home Office, a report reveals today.

The testimonies of 14 Chinese human trafficking victims from the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre describe women being detained for months or being released back to the addresses where they were abused, according to the Women for Refugee Women (WRW).

In one case the Home Office did not make a request for a suitable space and instead released a woman, who had been forced into prostitution, back to the address where she was being sexually exploited.

Many victims said their mental health deteriorated while at the centre. They also reported being screened by male staff and not being provided with an interpreter.

WRW director Natasha Walter said: “In all my time working with refugee and asylum-seeking women I have never heard stories more harrowing than those we are hearing from Chinese trafficked women in detention.

“These women have suffered extreme abuse and exploitation and do not receive the support and protection that is promised in policies.

“Instead, they are locked up and threatened with deportation. This situation must change now.”

Out of the 14 women, nine had been forced into prostitution in brothels or massage parlours and five had been forced to work in restaurants or in other forms of forced labour including domestic servitude.

One sex trafficking victim described how her removal to Yarl’s Wood was like being “taken from one hell to another.”

She said: “The gang leaders forced me to have sex with men who would come to the house where I was imprisoned.

“If I tried to refuse they would beat me and starve me. Then one day men in uniforms came to the house. I was terrified.”

Solicitor Shalini Patel from Duncan Lewis, who assisted the women involved in the report, said there was “clear incompetence and sheer disregard” for the safety of those “who have already been subjected to such horrendous sexual abuse and exploitation.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips, who is due to lead a Westminster Hall debate on the detention of trafficking victims today, urged the Home Office to carry out its own policies on trafficked women and ensure that they are protected.

Yarl’s Wood, taken over by outsourcing giant Serco in 2007, has come under repeated criticism in recent years. Several female detainees went on hunger strike in 2018 over their treatment there.

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