Unilad’s documentary team interviewed Promise, who was trafficked from Nigeria into prostitution. Promise is now rebuilding her life thanks to The Salvation Army and its partner, Black Country Women’s Aid, but her past is one that she wants to share – she wants women to see that there is a way out of slavery.
Read Promise’s story…
Promise was born and grew up in a small village in Nigeria. When she was young she felt attraction to women and when she was 16 years old, she began a relationship with another girl in her community. They fell in love. The girls would meet up in secret to be together as a couple, one day they were in her mum’s house when her dad’s friend, who Promise calls Uncle, came into the house and caught them together. He told the village community and the girls were beaten. Promise’s girlfriend did not survive the beating. Promise was put in a hut and told she would suffer the same fate and be stoned to death.
For two nights Promise was kept locked away until she eventually managed to escape and went to her aunt’s house. Promise explained what had happened but her aunt was worried about how the village would react if they found out she was protecting her – so the aunt gave Promise some money and an address of a friend in Portharcourt to get help.
The friend – Mr B – took Promise to Lagos. He said he would take her somewhere where she would be safe and could go to school, where she could play football, the game she loved.
However a different journey followed. Mr B took Promise to the UK. Promise had never heard of the UK, or seen a white person in the flesh. At Heathrow airport staff stopped Promise while Mr B slipped away – they’d noticed her false passport, which had been given to her by Mr B, but now he was nowhere to be seen. At 17, Promise was an unaccompanied minor so she was placed in foster care.
Frightened that she would be sent back to Nigeria and to her death, Promise ran away from foster care and tracked down Mr B – he was the only person she knew in the whole country, the only person she trusted. But Mr B betrayed her trust and took advantage of her vulnerability. He took her to a brothel and she was forced to work as a prostitute. For six months she was forced to have sex with what seemed like endless numbers of men. She could not leave out of fear for her life – she did not know anyone or where to go. Promise eventually found the courage to want to leave and towards the end of the six months she had made a friend at the brothel who gave her details about a place she could escape to. It was another brothel but she got to keep the money she made – she worked so she could buy food.
Mr B had told Promise he worked for the British government so she didn’t dare report him or speak to the police. It wasn’t until much later that she sought legal advice about claiming asylum that she was referred to The Salvation Army, and was identified as a victim of trafficking and modern slavery. Promise finally began to get the support she needed to rebuild her life with the help of The Salvation Army and Black Country Women's Aid. She wants to share her story to let other women know that there is a way out of slavery.
Anne Read, Director of Anti-Trafficking for The Salvation Army said:
“Promise’s strength and bravery in telling her story is overwhelming – it is vital that people in her position are given a chance to speak out and be heard. For so many years she was silenced.
I hope this video reaches a wide audience so that people understand that modern slavery is happening all around us and that they can do something to help put a stop to it by learning what the signs are and reporting anything they suspect as suspicious. The Salvation Army has covenanted to fight for and support the victims of this awful crime and we are grateful for channels like Unilad which help us raise awareness.”
If you consider yourself to be a victim of modern slavery and are in need of assistance, or if you are concerned about someone you suspect might be a victim of modern slavery, contact The Salvation Army’s confidential referral hotline on 0300 303 8151, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information can be found here: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/ZiD
Last year The Salvation Army reported a five-fold rise in the number of modern slavery victims it has supported in as many years. The latest report figures reveal 45 percent of victims referred to The Salvation Army had been trafficked for sexual exploitation; the second highest number of female clients were from Nigeria (report findings can be found here: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/Ziz).
WARNING: The film from Unilad contains adult language and explicit descriptions of sex slavery that some viewers may find difficult to watch.