Remove UK Government charges for bringing victims home after being trafficked abroad.

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I wonder how many people know that the UK Government charges victims of trafficking to return home? If they cant pay there and then, or refuse to sign an agreement to a loan, then they are left in the hands of their abusers...

Born in the UK South Wales to a British mother and Arabic father I was the youngest of 4 sisters. I was only 6 years old when my mother was murdered by my father.

After his release from prison he then took me and two of my sisters out of school under the pretense that we were off for a “holiday” to his home country of Yemen. Once there we were sold as child brides. I was 13 years old.

We suffered unimaginable abuses which lasted almost 17 years. One of my sisters lost her life in Yemen.

It was a miracle that any of us lived long enough to escape, but eventually I managed to flee to the British Embassy with my five children. Once there the Embassy agreed to smuggle me back home to the UK.

However, my liberation/freedom came at a price.

I was asked to sign an agreement promising to repay the Embassy for our repatriation costs back to the UK. This money was to be repaid once we were finally safe back home. If I didn’t sign it or pay there and then I couldn’t be helped.

After being exploited and abused for many, many years I feel as though I was exploited all over again. I was promised my freedom; however I started my free life with a debt hovering over me, a debt I owed to our Government. This debt haunted me for many years because on my return I was classed as “dishonoring” my family so I had nothing, no family, no home, no savings to turn to and no prospect or means of ever being able to repay the debt other than social security benefits given to me to help me survive. This money was then taken out of my benefits, leaving me more at risk of poverty and further debt.

The emergency loan agreement document demands that an individual repay the debt within five years and, if the loan is not repaid within six months, a 10% surcharge is added in lieu of interest.  The Government has now dropped repatriation charges for under 18s which is a welcoming step forward, but what about the rest of us. What about those of us who are taken as children but return home as adults, or with children of our own, are we not worthy of the same help?

More stories are coming out from victims and survivors who have had to repay the Government repatriation charges after being abducted / trafficked abroad for the purpose of child or forced marriage. This practice of demanding we pay them money for our freedom puts many of us at risk of even more abuse. What if we say we are unable to repay? What then?

Haven’t we suffered enough at the hands of our abusers? Please help us with this petition so we can ensure our Government does not add salt to our wounds by demanding we pay for our safe passage home.

Gabriella Gillespie



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