Read descriptions of different cases where HopeNow has been involved in helping trafficked people. You can choose a story below.
… She thought she was going to be a nanny.
Gloria’s uncle sent her to John, a man who was suppose to help her come to Europe where she could work as a nanny. Gloria’s family paid big sums of money for this and afterwards she had to swear in front of her gods that she would pay John another £ 50,000 to help her. This happened through a religious ritual, ‘juju’ where the gods penetrated her body and she realized that if she ever went against the she would become insane or die.
To really understand what is at stake, it is important to emphasize that juju is a recognized problem for trafficked people coming from certain African countries. It’s the invisible bond that binds them and works at least as powerful as if there was a mastermind standing and breathing them in the neck.
John took Gloria to the airport. Here, he took her ID documents and tickets but they did not sit next to each other in the airplane. Only when they left the plane in Madrid, John returned to Gloria, took her under her arm and marched her to a car where another man waited for them. Then she did not see John for 2 years.
… threatened to work as a prostitute
The other man, his name was Michael, was not a nice guy. He took her to a large apartment where six other young women lived.
Two of the girls were very young and at first, Gloria believed that they were the children she was going to take care of. After a week, Gloria realized what was going to happen. Michael came by with some friends a couple of times a week and they raped Gloria on the big bed in the living room. After a month, Michael wanted Gloria to go out with the other women to the streets.
She tried to refuse but after she had been beaten up for three days, she ended up doing what Michael had said. The next two years, Gloria was in a daze. Street prostitution every night, body search every morning, where Michael took all the money (even those Gloria had tried to save in her vagina) and beaten up every time she tried to resist. Until one day …
…Her brother was killed as a threat
One afternoon when Gloria woke up, John suddenly stood in the door again.
He asked her to pack her stuff and he said she had to move. A little hope was spreading in Gloria, and she hoped she would finally work as a nanny.
John still had her papers, and after a short flight, she hoped to get the papers again. Instead, she an ugly surprise was ahead of her. The land she had now come to was cold and dark and there was snow on the streets. Gloria was installed in a similar apartment like that in Spain and a large matron named Precious was madame in the house. Precious said there was more money to earn in Denmark than in Spain and that the customers were less coarse.
The last proved to be a lie. It was cold to stand on Skelbækgade every night in minus degrees and nylon stockings and it was hardly possible to keep on doing the rough work. One day Gloria got enough. With courage she spoke to a acquaintance in Sweden and she decided to run away. She hid in Sweden and she waited a month before she tried to call her family in Benin again. It turned out that her brother had been killed as a message that she should return to Denmark.
…. arrested despite being innocent
When Gloria was back on Skelbækgade, she realized that she had worked for John, Michael and Precious for almost four years.
By this time, she had not been able to keep track of the £ 50,000 she had managed to pay back because she was not allowed to write down how much she earned.
In addition, both Michael and Precious had added extra debt to the old one. As she was thinking about this while standing behind Copenhagen central station, two police officers suddenly came walking towards her. They asked for her ID documents and she gave them the fake papers that Precious had given her. Without completely understanding why, Gloria ended up in jail. It had something to do with the fake papers. The police continued to ask her, how she had come to Denmark. Under her oath, she had sworn not to say anything. One day a different kind of woman came to the prison. She had a calming look, a Bible under her arm and seemed to know more of the African women. After a talk about God and Gloria’s life story, the woman assured her that she could help Gloria. Despite countless experiences of abuse and distrust, she felt as if she had finally found someone she could trust. This woman was sent by HopeNow.
And then Gloria told her story. She spoke of her ignorance, vulnerability, the gross abuse and the many years of detention and forced prostitution. The woman promised that she would do everything she could to get Gloria out of jail. One week after, as her trial was taking place, this woman was present again. Identifying Gloria as a victim of human trafficking was being spoken about and though Gloria did not understand everything, the women kept her word. After the trial, Gloria was taken to a center for women where she was finally treated as the victim she is.
“I’m from a very poor family in South America. When I was 6 years old, I was raped the first time. My childhood has been full of sexual abuse. When i was 17 years old, I was trafficked to Japan, where I was forced into prostitution and worked to earn 100,000 USD for my freedom. I got my freedom when I had earned the money.
I went to Spain and worked in prostitution for myself, without traffickers. The crisis in Europe made it difficult for me to make money, so when I was offered a job on a brothel in Denmark I said yes. I had heard that Denmark was a good country to earn money in, without traffickers or organized networks. I came to Denmark, and it turned out I was wrong. I had been trafficked just like I had been when I was 17 years old and once again I was forced to pay back a debt.
The following is a personal report from the courtroom of a master student and volunteer in HopeNow.
As a volunteer in HopeNow, it has been interesting to observe trials, where it is victims of human trafficking who are being indicted. Unfortunately, it is a fact that victims of trafficking are not always treated as, or considered to be identified. Therefore, they risk being sentenced and convicted in Denmark for conditions, which they, according to danish law, should have been found non guilty of.
The following story puts into light how HopeNow helps make a difference for victims of human trafficking in Denmark.
She had been arrested at Copenhagen Airport in the beginning of January 2013 and she had since been detained for faking documents. The police and prosecutor said they could detect to the court that her passport had been manipulated.
HopeNow, who for many years has built up a network and close contact with the Africans in Denmark, was informed about the detention of the woman via the network and subsequently arranged a personal conversation / interview with the woman in prison.
During the conversation, it became clear to psychotherapist Michelle Mildwater, who was the one interviewing the women, that the woman was confused, worried and showing signs of anxiety. Factors which, to the experienced psychotherapist, indicates that the woman may potentially be a victim of human trafficking. As the woman was traumatized, it was taken into careful consideration, how to avoid further tramautization during the process of intervieweing. In the next 10 days, the women was interviewed twice by Mildwater with the purpose of finding out how she came to Copenhagen.
It turns out that the woman started to owe approx. 50,000 euros to a criminal network that had forced her into prostitution using physical and mental terror. 4 years later she owed about 25,000 euros. This, alongside other information, is important to have when applying for an official identification of the women. A so-called 1A document must be written containing all these pieces of information. Unless she gains such a status, she is considered a criminal in the system and she will be punished accordingly.
In the beginning of February, HopeNow sends the papers that are necessary to start the formal process of identifying the women as a victim of human trafficking. The woman’s defense attorney also receives the identification papers and HopeNow announce they they will be available for the trial.
HopeNow is surprised when the woman calls the next day and tell them that she will go the court the same day. HopeNow realizes that the defense attorney has not read the submitted documents and therefore that it is not the intention of the attorney to make the court take a position in the matter. This means that Denmark cannot judge the woman and instead she will be given over to Reden International and placed in their shelter.
Against the prosecutors wish to postpone the case (which would have resulted in further detention of the woman), the case is brought to court, with the result that the woman is found free after the trial andtransferred to Reden International.
I who helped to attend the trial can not help thinking what it feels like to be free after one month’s detention in a foreign country but still being “trapped” – mentally speaking. That the woman most likely would have been convicted and imprisoned even if HopeNow had not intervened.
Last but not least, I leave the courtroom ignorant of the prosecutor’s reasons for postponing the trial with the argument that “that the woman is not distressed and that she is well where she is.” In prison.
According to UN estimates, approximately 2.5 million people are trafficked each year. However, it is difficult to say with certainty how many who are actually victims of the traffickers brutal exploitation of money.
Looking beyond statistics and numbers, there are people who are being exploited, forced to prostitution and suffering hard under this. We have to realize that these victims of human trafficking are not just an anonymous crowd of people but individuals with a story.
HopeNow brings stories from two of these women. They have both been trafficked into prostitution in Denmark. The names of the women are fictional but their stories are genuine. We have been given their permission to tell their stories.
“My mother and father died when I was seven years old. I was left with my aunt, who was angry with me and took advantage of me. If you read the story of Cinderella – this was how my life was. I worked 16 hours a day where I was carrying water, washing clothes, cleaning the house and selling fruit on the market. I was beaten almost every day. When I turned 16 my aunt suggested that I should go to Europe where I could get a good job and an education. I thought this would be my big chance in life.
I was glad to get away from her and I left without any worries. I travelled through the desert and across the water. I saw many people who drowned and other terrible things. I ended up in Spain when I was 18 years old and in a couple of days, my dream of a better life was broken. I was forced to work on the street and make money as a prostitute. My Madame, who called my aunt, said that my debt was 50,000 euros for transportation and paperwork.
It was a terrible life and I was very scared all the time. In 2008 I was sent to Denmark because my trafficker said that I could earn more and faster money there. I met the police for the first time when I was raped by a customer who tried to kill me. One of the police officers was sweet to me and contacted HopeNow. I applied for asylum in Denmark. To start with, I lied about who my trafficker was but when I began to trust HopeNow and the police, I told the true story.
First, I did not get a residence permit but HopeNow struggled hard for my case after I told them the true story and together with my lawyer we managed to win the case. In the future, I hope more women dare to tell the police about their traffickers, even though it is difficult. In Denmark, you can not know for sure if you are sent back to be killed by your traffickers even if you have testified against them. ”
Fortunately, Evangeline gained asylum in Denmark. HopeNow collaborates closely with a good lawyer who appealed the case and won because it was estimated that there was an imminent danger of sending Evangeline back to Africa. HopeNow has also served as a support and contact person for the women who have been trafficked at one point doing their long process of integration into Denmark.
“I’m from a very poor family in South America. When I was six years old, I was raped the first time. My childhood was full of sexual exploitation. When I was 17, I was trafficked to Japan and forced into prostitution. In order to gain my freedom back, I had to earn $ 100,000
I got my freedom after having earned the money. I went to Spain where I worked as a prostitute without any traffickers. I had become hard and I lost the little innocence I had preserved. The crisis in Europe made it hard to make money and when I was offered a job in a Danish brothel, I said yes.
People had told me that Denmark was a good place to earn money without traffickers and organized criminal networks. I came to Denmark and it turned out I was wrong … Once again, I been trafficked, just like when I was 17 years old. I was forced to work off my debts again and the owners of the brothels continued to make up more expense, I was forced to pay back.
It was both erotic images for a website, transport, advertisements in the newspaper and a very high rent. I had to work on their premises and I could not go out as I wanted. I realized that the other girls on the brothel were afraid of them because they were controlled with both mental and physical threats.
I am a smart woman and I have become acquainted with the many pathways that life can take. I was considering writing a book and I felt that I had control over my own life but I was still exploited by a group of traffickers. HopeNow helped me to get over the shock and the traumas that these experiences left me with. They gave me my courage back, helped me with medical treatment and paid for my tickets so I could go back to Spain.”
Amanda has contacted HopeNow and confirmed that she has returned home and and that she has now recovered from her unpleasant experiences in Denmark.
Like many of the women HopeNow works with, Dora was forced to work in prostitution in Denmark, which involves a risk of conviction for illegal work. One night in 2012, she was arrested by the police during a street raid. Dora was afraid, confused and she did not dare to tell her story to the social workers she met.
In addition, Dora was afraid because before she left for Europe she had sworn an oath that she would not tell anyone about her experiences. Therefore, she did not dare to not tell her story to anyone.
After Dora was arrested, the legal process was speeding up. Dora was imprisoned, sentenced for illegal work and expelled from Denmark with a 2-year verdict. Therefore, she was not allowed to return to Denmark as long as she had her verdict. Dora was expelled to Spain, which was the country she had first been trafficked to after leaving Africa – but despite her 2-year verdict, her trafficker forced her to return to Copenhagen in 2013. They did so because they knew that this was the place where she could make most money to pay the fictitious debt of 60,000 Euro, which they insisted she owed them. The pressure that the trafficker put on Dora and her family made her agree to return to Denmark.
Once again, Dora was arrested on the street and imprisoned in Vestre prison.
HopeNow has been doing outreach work in Vester Prison. It was here where Dora became acquainted with HopeNow, after which she, with HopeNow’s cultural intermediary approach, received our counselling and therapeutic work several times. After trust was build up, Dora told her true story to HopeNow. At that time, Dora risked a 6-year sentence and 40 days imprisonment because she had returned to Denmark despite being previously expelled. Immediately after Dora had told her story, we contacted Center Against Human Trafficking, and sent the 6-page-long document we had made with Dora,who described and explained her story as trafficked. Dora’s defense attorney immediately joined and did a good job. In court, the judge decided to acquit Dora and she was immediately released and left to HopeNow. HopeNow’s employees made sure she arrived at Reden International Crisis Center.
Dora is no longer considered a criminal in Denmark but she is now recognized as a victim of a crime.