Personal Testimonies Video Transcript

Domestic Servitude, “Agnes” (22), Ivory Coast

Arrived as an orphan to study in France and forced to work long hours without pay or contact. Escaped after two years with the help of neighbours.

I arrived in France through a lady my brother said would help me. I had lost my parents. My brother was still young and going to school so he couldn’t take care of me. The lady’s daughter came for a holiday and the lady introduced us. She said, “This is my daughter. She will take you with her. You’ll mind her children and she’ll send you to school.” I had just turned 18.

All the time I was with her, I minded her children, but she never made good on her promise. I took care of the children, washed them. I cooked, I cleaned, everything. I never went out because I wasn’t allowed. I couldn’t talk to people, even the neighbours. She didn’t pay me.

One day, she said to me, “Get your things together, we’re going back to Adidjan.”

I didn’t want to go because she hadn’t helped me. Sending me back to Adidjan there was no one there for me.

For three years I worked, kept her children and for three years, she did nothing.

It’s really painful. Now, I feel even though it’s hard, but I prefer this. I prefer this than to stay in such a situation.


Forced Prostitution, Teodora (35), Romania

Forced to become a prostitute in Belgium. She contributed to the arrest of her procurers in Romania and gained custody of her son.

I was a simple woman. I had a partner, we lived together. I lived with him for seven years. I had a child and worked in a restaurant.

My mother and sister-in-law were deported from Romania to Belgium. I saw the deportation orders and it said clearly that they had been prostitutes in Belgium.

She wanted, she forced me to go and be a prostitute in Belgium. She used my son to threaten me. She had every mean to take my son away.

I worked in a bar dedicated to prostitution. Every Friday, I was expected to send them 300 euros. I had to send them that in addition to the gifts I would take to Romania.

I couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I disgusted myself because I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I couldn’t recognize myself. I was a different woman from before.

I wanted to get out, but couldn’t find a way. I managed to endure because of my son, because a child for a mother, he’s my heart, my life, my eyes. I’ve no words for it.

We can never forget. Never.

It may heal over, but the scars will remain for the rest of your life.


Forced Stealing, “Cristina” (15), Romania

Married against her will at 13 and forced to steal by her husband in Spain and Belgium. She now lives in a youth shelter and is going to school.

My name is Cristina. I’m 15 and I come from Romania. I lived there and then went to England.

I stayed with my little sisters and brother. I minded them, always at home with them.

And then, one day, my mother married me off.

A friend of hers came to our house and said he wanted to marry me. I heard this and cried, and did all kinds of things not to marry him.

She said, “It’s my decision. You must live by it.”

My husband was 18. I was only 13 and couldn’t do anything.

He was mean. He didn’t know how to act with a girl 14 or 15. He acted as if I were a woman of 20 or 30.

Then I went to Romania where they made my passport and stuff. After that I went to Spain.

I stole and he stayed home. I never wanted to steal but I had to or he would hit me. He saw that stealing wasn’t working in Spain, so we came to Belgium.

I thought that what was doing was wrong and I wanted to stop, and so the police arrested me. I got myself arrested voluntarily. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here.

They put me in a center and I started to live a normal life.

When I think about it all, I feel really sad. It’s not….


Forced Labour, Mark Ovenden (26), England

Forced to work under conditions of slavery in the UK, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Rescued by the Swedish police.

I was unemployed. I had no income whatsoever. I guy pulled up to me in a car, quite an expensive car. He said that as well as working, he’d give me somewhere to stay. He’d provide food for me. He’d try to make me as comfortable as possible and he’d pay me 50 pounds a day.

Then my boss decided to go up to the site that his family lives on and there everything went very quickly downhill. He stopped paying me anything at all. We were working up to 15 hours a day. And it’s very, very physical work, very, very heavy work.

There were a lot of broken looking people. There was no rest. Every waking minute of every day was spent working somehow. There were, I’d say around 20 other workers on the site who were working for other members of my boss’ family.

They were physically punished for the slightest little thing. They would beat them for not working fast enough. I’ve seen people attacked with work tools, with spades, with pick axes.

They have their heads shaved. They live 15 men in a horse box.

It was very much like a concentration camp. Alot of them were extremely hopeless. There were guys that had been there for five years or more who’d given up all hope. They couldn’t see any way to leave. They’d seen people try to run away in the past and always, every single time, a day later or two days later, they’d be dragged back.

By the time I was 24 years old, I have a decent education. I'm physically fit. How could this happen to me, sort of thing. It’s really, really difficult for people to understand that it could happen to anybody. It just requires somebody’s circumstances to change that things get worse for them that they’re able to kind of land in that situation. Absolutely anybody it could happen to.

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