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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

How a Nigerian girl was incacerated and exploited as a domestic slave by a wealthy family in the UK

26-year-old Cynthia is one of the thousands of modern slavery victims whose suffering has been highlighted in a report published by the University of Hull and YouGov on Tuesday, October 18th, about the lack of awareness of the scale or nature of modern slavery in the UK.



In December 2013, a year after she escaped, Cynthia, then 23, reported the abuse and exploitation to the police. Her case is currently in its final stages. And three years later, precisely last week, she won her asylum case and is now working for a charity alongside her Accountancy studies.

However, walking away from slavery was terrifying for Cynthia. Enslaved at the age of 13 after being tricked into leaving her home and school in Nigeria for a better life, she had spent a decade incarcerated and exploited as a domestic servant at the hands of a wealthy family in Essex.
"I knew I had to leave," says Cynthia. "But I was very afraid. I didn’t know where I was going or where my future lay. My head was all over the place."
During those 10 years at the mercy of a rich, well-connected and seemingly highly respected family from Nigeria, not a soul batted an eyelid at the young girl in their community who would take other pupils to school, then pick them up, but at no point attend classes herself. In most respects, she was invisible to the outside world.

The study finds that just eight per cent of the UK population understands the true extent of slavery in this country, while more than 55 per cent admit to not being aware of the most common sign. This lack of awareness about modern slavery among the British public is highlighted in Cynthia’s story.

As a young teenager she would walk the family’s children to school each day and then return home again, without neighbours voicing any concern. When she was 15 she started attending evening classes at the local school, but none of the teachers questioned why a teenager was studying in the evening and not during the school day.
"People didn’t care," Cynthia recalls. "It’s one of the things that really bothers me. I was only 13 years old, but nobody took issue with the fact that I shouldn’t be doing these things. I didn’t speak about it because I was told not to talk, but it’s sad that it took 10 years for anyone to say something."
A report published by Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, recently revealed “chronic weaknesses in modern slavery crime reporting,” pointing to a lack of intelligence reporting and evidence-based action, leading to victims such as Cynthia being failed by the system. In response to Cynthia’s story, Mr Hyland said:
"There are many girls and women being brought over and working in the shadows. Cynthia was taking the children to school at the age of 13, and people didn’t take notice. She was clearly a child being treated differently from the other children, but no one spoke out or took action. It’s a problem with the law as well. It needs to be dealt with like any other crime of abuse."
Before she moved to the UK, Cynthia was attending school in the village where she grew up in Lagos State, Nigeria. Although she was in school her family was poor, and when the offer came up through a distant family friend for her to move in with a rich Nigerian family in Britain, her parents didn’t want to turn down the opportunity for her to escape poverty and gain access to a better education. But on arriving in the UK Cynthia quickly discovered the reality was very different.
"The day after I moved here the man of the house threatened me," Cynthia says. "He said I had to wake up at 5am every morning to clean the house. I wasn't allowed to go to school. I had been told I would take the kids to school and then go to my school for the day. But they said after I did the school run I wasn’t allowed to leave the house – just do the chores. That blew my mind."
Cynthia became one of the 13,000 victims of modern slavery suffering in silence in the UK. She realised she had left behind a much happier life in her home country, but she found herself trapped and was unable to break out. She says:
"In Nigeria I had friends and I would play. But when I came here I had to become an adult even though I was a child. I had to take on loads of responsibility. It was a lot to cope with and I had no privacy at all. My bedroom door was always kept open so they could call me at any time. Sometimes at 1am I’d have to get up and work."
As time went on her treatment became worse. Several weeks after her arrival Cynthia wrote a letter addressed to her parents, telling the reality of what was happening, but kept it in a closed notebook.
"The woman somehow found it," she says. "That’s when I realised I was really afraid of them and I couldn’t do anything. I had to beg her for forgiveness. She wouldn’t talk to me. I became like an enemy in the house. I couldn’t talk to people. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I tried to tell my family in Nigeria but they didn’t believe what I was saying. The woman told them things that weren't true – that I wasn't behaving."
While struggling with her deep loneliness, Cynthia pined to go to school again. After a year of living in the UK she got another chance at education.
"The family realised I was constantly crying about not going to school," she remembers. "I would have swollen eyes at the end of every day from crying about it. The woman spoke to a friend who worked in a college and I was enrolled onto evening classes." But succeeding in her studies while completing her daily domestic work was no easy feat. "Before going to classes I had to finish all the housework, The woman would inspect it before I went. Sometimes I would be late for school, other times I couldn't go at all. But I couldn’t talk to anyone there about what was happening. I had to pretend everything was okay."
Despite missing a year of classes and studying only in the evenings, Cynthia passed her GCSEs just a year late. After that she was hungry to continue her education.
"I wanted to do a Business qualification, but it was full-time," she says. "The woman said I had to look after the kids, so I couldn’t do it. I had to do evening classes again. Accounting was the only evening class available, so I took that. I had to put so much effort in. I was determined. I had to do the housework too. I had to make sure everywhere was clean before I went to the library or anything."
Despite missing a year of classes and studying only in the evenings, Cynthia passed her GCSEs just a year late. After that she was hungry to continue her education.
"I wanted to do a Business qualification, but it was full-time," she says. "The woman said I had to look after the kids, so I couldn’t do it. I had to do evening classes again. Accounting was the only evening class available, so I took that. I had to put so much effort in. I was determined. I had to do the housework too. I had to make sure everywhere was clean before I went to the library or anything."
At around the same time as she began her college studies, Cynthia met someone who made escaping seem possible.
"I met a woman in town. She was Nigerian but not within the right-knit Nigerian community," she says. "I was sitting in a bench and she came over with her kids and started talking to me. She could see that I was worried. We got talking and she gave me her number. I called her a few weeks later. Gradually I was able to open up to her. She said the best way was to move out of the house. From there I was able to make that choice. I knew it was the right time for me to move."
By talking with someone about her situation, Cynthia eventually grew the confidence to tell the family she was leaving.
"I was very afraid of the future. I didn’t know where I was going," she says. "I made up my mind that I wanted to go, but it was really scary. I had been in there for 10 years."
Cynthia found a room to rent with the help of the woman who encouraged her to leave. The family reluctantly agreed she could leave, but kept her passport. She did not initially report them to the police. She thought she could swiftly move on from what had happened, but soon found the experience was causing her distress, heightened by financial pressures. She recalls: "It was a stressful time, and I found it hard to pay the rent. I would clean for people, I would iron clothes. But I was drained emotionally and physically. 
"I couldn’t sleep for the fear of what was going to happen to me. Then I started hearing voices in my head at night, shouting orders at me. I got to the point where I was sleeping for one hour a night. I thought if everything got that difficult I would pack my bag and go back to my country, but I couldn’t even do that. They still had my passport and I had no visa, nothing. That’s when I decided I had to tell the police what they had done to me."
Cynthia reported the abuse to the police in December 2013, a year after she escaped, and her case is currently in its final stages. Just 28 per cent of modern slavery crimes in the UK that get recorded; despite there being 3,146 potential victims identified by the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in England and Wales last year, only 884 crimes were recorded by police forces.

Three years after escaping from the labour exploitation she was subjected to, Cynthia has just won her asylum case last week and is now working for a charity alongside her Accountancy studies, with plans to work as an account in the future. But her relief and hope for the future are infused with a sense of frustration and sadness in knowing that that there are thousands of other victims in the country who are still suffering in silence. “A lot of people in the UK don’t even know what child trafficking is," she says.
“It saddens me that even though I’ve come out of it there are still thousands of people out there in the position I was in. The victims are kept inside the house. They’re crying but people aren't listening out for their voice."
 Source: The INDEPENDENT

48 comments:

Davido's driver said...

Chilling story.

CHERYL (aka FROM GLORY to GLORY) said...

Such heartlessness... I wish the family can be named and shamed!

Long Live LIB

vinna saviour said...

Thank God for her life

Eddy Ogbunambala said...

It's well

okechukwu nnoduechi said...

WICKED WORLD.








AUNTY LINDA 👩

Nseabasi Ekpo said...

even in this modern age, so unfortunate

Uju Phil said...

Quite a horrible tale...it's well!

Chizzy Liz said...

*************************hmmmmmmmmm **********ya dibe shaa !!!!!!! Ma obu onatawa na

BONARIO NNAGS said...

Thank God for her life.
I hope others like her will regain their freedom


. ~BONARIO~says so via NOKIA LUMIA

Juliet Iwuno said...

The wickedness of human surprises Satan, I swear. Linda take note!

Anonymous said...

All this ingrate Naija girls, they wld ve left her for her poor parents to take care of, coming here to paint a family that helped her bad

Nseabasi Ekpo said...

modern day slavery, this is so so unbelievable, God have mercies on mankind

Saphire Muna said...

Hmmmmmmmm cynthia just wanna implicate people that give her life, that's wickedness... You ate their food for free, they sheltered you.. They send you to school though it was evening class at least they tried, they allowed you go when u said u wanna go,.. All you did to thank them was to report them to police when u can't fend for your self again... What will cynthia gain seeing those people going to jail for bringing her out of poverty infested Nigeria to Europe... They didn't sent out to do prostitute.. Just house chores which is very normal.. Some people who are living with their parent do more chores than u did and didn't afford to go to school atall... You should be thankful cynthia, not bn demon.. Infact cynthia is a demon












............ Liber maniac...........

OSINANL said...

NA WAH!
PARENTS WILL JUST GIVE THEIR CHILDREN AWAY AND THEY DONT EVEN CARE WHAT HE/SHE MAYBE GOING THROUGH

Eze Chinyere said...

I took my my time to go through your story. Its quite pathetic

zubby said...

this story has mixed messages. i am not sure i beleive the slavery part of the story. it sounds like the typical nigerian story of family takes in a less priviledged child with the promise of an education and opportunity. The family allowed her to school in the evening and actually enrolled her in college even if its in the evening. they let her go free when she asked to leave. it sounds like she needed to get asylum and this story as told was just perfect. the only fault i see from the story is that they should have taken an 18 yr old and not a 13 year old. This will cost them dearly. there is only one side of the story told here. for balance it would be nice to hear from the family too.
oyinbo people will just use the case for political point.

ogbonna nwabueze said...

God will punish that wicked family

Abosede Ojuade said...

Seen.

Anonymous said...

U sound shallow

amaka agatha said...

You actually came from a poor background and you are not grateful for the exposure given to you, don't worry by the time you get married and have your home,you will be grateful for the training they gave you but didn't give their children,your looking for free life,look,I experienced more than that in Nigeria ,I was expecting you to mention sexually abused.well thank God today am being celebrated and have become who I never thought I would become,now I give back to them in appreciation, what they never thought of.better thank God for your life and reconcile with them.

Anonymous said...

They should have told her and her parents the exact thing she was going there to do then she Wil decide if she should go or not.Not promise her something very promising and later subject her to something demeaning.

amaka agatha said...

You actually came from a poor background and you are not grateful for the exposure given to you, don't worry by the time you get married and have your home,you will be grateful for the training they gave you but didn't give their children,your looking for free life,look,I experienced more than that in Nigeria ,I was expecting you to mention sexually abused.well thank God today am being celebrated and have become who I never thought I would become,now I give back to them in appreciation, what they never thought of.better thank God for your life and reconcile with them.

amaka agatha said...

You actually came from a poor background and you are not grateful for the exposure given to you, don't worry by the time you get married and have your home,you will be grateful for the training they gave you but didn't give their children,your looking for free life,look,I experienced more than that in Nigeria ,I was expecting you to mention sexually abused.well thank God today am being celebrated and have become who I never thought I would become,now I give back to them in appreciation, what they never thought of.better thank God for your life and reconcile with them.

Vivian Reginalds said...

nawao
-D great anonymous now as Vivian Reginalds

academics extras said...

The wicked family made her who she is . She should have asked the UK police to send her back to nigeria na. U missed only one year and u still get mouth

Anonymous said...

Pls dis family did nothing wrong to this girl as far as I am concerned... did u all read d story at all, they only did the normal thing every home even in nigeria does to their maid, and that is cleaning the home and taking care of the children. I think the girl herself has a problem because they even helped her

Anonymous said...

Wicked Cynthia...

Anonymous said...

God will not punish the family, but will punish you and Cynthia!

Anonymous said...

Not surprised that there are people here defending the family. Their families do a lot worse here in Nigeria. Then we thing we have the moral right to condemn the Europeans and Americans for slavery and racism when we can't even treat our fellow Nigerians like human beings

Anonymous said...

As long as you have a 'househelp' in your house who isn't in school and his/her sole responsibility is to cook, clean and take care of your kids- you're equally guilty of child trafficking, and wicked and any other name you choose to call this family.
I've never been an advocate of hiring a help that lives in your house and isn't given the opportunity to live their lives independent of yours. What this family has done is what is the norm of the working population in Nigeria only difference is they've done it in a country that has laws and actually cares about people as individuals and not objects.
Before you point an accusing finger, check yourself.

Remyne O said...

Thank you. She is trying to implicate the family in her quest for papers..

Whitney Welbeck said...

Wow!!! So human beings that think like dis still exist?? And we think Satan is evil when people like you are worse off

Anonymous said...

You really make sense!

historyworld6060 said...

Cynthia you are are wicked.

Anonymous said...

Finally someone has spoken d truth, her parent knew very well what she was going to do, but Cynthia is evil sha, Dats why most pple will rather hire latinos

Ann Nwa said...

The title should be "the story of an ungrateful girl"

Anonymous said...

Don't mind the foolish girl

Anonymous said...

That girl is simply ungrateful. They Should have left her with her poor family. Who knows maybe should would have been a pepper seller by now. Stupid girl

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. They never hit her or starve her or make her sleep on the floor or outside. They only made her do domestic chores and registered here in a school after some years. Now this is my question. 1. Was she thinking they were adopting her as their child? Doesn't she know what the house help arrangements is all about? 2. Did she think they were going to register her in school immidiately her flight landed without her learning the 'trade' she came for first. 3. Did she think they were going to enroll her in a private school with their own kids? Who will pay for that? Her own parents? Well since she decided to pay them back by going to the police, I hope she's ready for what karma has in store for her. Let's not pretend by thinking that her life is not better off because they took her Inn. Even my own father became a lawyer because he was a houseboy from age 9 to a wealthy family. Something his poor parents could never have afforded. Bunch of hypocrites!

Rent Property said...

In Nigeria, this type of story is common (slavery or family members used as maids) and it's encouraging because I lived it. I cannot sleep without my brother, his wife and kids far asleep. I lived in constant fear, anxiety because you don't know if you will be sent out of the house. I don't have a life outside their activities. If the children are sick, I must be sick too. I missed the whole semester of school his wife had an accident. I will not go to if there was no hotdog in the house lol.... I can't go to part-time school because her kids will be home in the evening and weekends so my options is 1pm-5pm. I worked more than their maids, nannies,messengers and others put together because I am their blood and they trusted me with their children. Now, I don't have any confident and fear and anxiety are taken over my life despite me living by myself. During my days in their house, I put down my mattress on the floor and I socked it with my tears. Lucky shine on me when EFFC was after them so the relocated their children to abroad. My advice to anyone going through tough times, remember it's temporary so continue to do right. I remember during my uncertainty, praying that God please bless me so I can buy house, car to people. Imagine a slave without a clear path to freedom praying that prayer. Yes, God has ears and he will ask us as long as we are faithful to him. I was so excited more than the receiver of my N500,000. It was a great feeling that I can do it. How can I forget the day I signed my $600,000 house. The story of this lady brought back my darkest days.

Anonymous said...

If you have a thirteen year old who is actually still a child and your treating the child different from the way you would treat your children, then it's morally wrong. You can't do more harm than good in someone's life and say you're helping the person. Why are some people here saying Cynthia is a bad person? If what the family did was right would reporting put them in trouble? Meaning you agree what they did was wrong but Cynthia shouldn't have reported out of misplaced gratitude.At least if you're well off and you have someone working for you, treat them well. Don't use the excuse of bringing the person out of poverty to justify maltreatment.It's also against the law to use minors as servants. For those people that don't know this.

Nkechinyere Isawode said...

You are enlightened. I'm supper sensitive when it comes to children. Maybe because I work with them. The writer above just explained what goes on in Nigeria which is not suppose to be so. I carefully read through the writeup and it brought me to tears. Put this little girl in the your kids' shoes. She was just 13!.Even if her parents were poor, do the right thing. At that age, she doesn't understand the language poor or rich, she only wants to be a child. She wants to make friends and play with them. She was totally deprived of her childhood and social life which are basic developmental milestone in everyone's life. If things went the other way for the family, will they like their kids to be treated this way? She didn't even want to put them into trouble, she only wanted her passport which she will use as identification for school and traveling. Why was the passport ceased? The family is guilty. They overworked her instead of giving her work her age. She went from baby to adult. If you criticize her, put yourself in her shoes. This is also one of the act that disorient families. I'm sure the kids she takes care of her are older than her. They keep using other people to work for their kids, at the end, the children can't live an independent life. When they get married, their partners complain. Most times, the union end up in divorce. The children suffer psychologically and can't be cared for. Times have changed so much. Get a professional adult help. It will help a lot.

Teemah Salau said...

I do not encourage slavery o, but did story is somehow. Just saying!

Anonymous said...

How was she ungrateful madam

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Anonymous said...

Please do not believe everything you have read in this story. The girl is lying only to get her papers. As God is still on the throne, He will expose every lie. Cynthia or whatever you call your name, the same family that brought you for a better life sent your brother to school in Nigeria with him graduating from the University of Lagos. It was your same brother after seeing how he was treated by this family begged for your to be taken to the UK. You cannot destroy peoples lives and expect God to fold His arms in silence. You were not even 13 years old at the time. This is a lie too. Only God can fight for the family you are trying to bring down and He will save them from your plot. It is well.

Anonymous said...

This is rubbish I know the girl she lied about her age she was 15 when she came and 25 when she left she went to school did he gcse went on holiday with the family and is just trying to get papers as she has nowhere to stay

Anonymous said...

The mind boggles….
Destroy a family just to secure your papers in the UK. I know you are a smart lady and you are probably reading this blog, remember the law of KARMA for when you start making babies.

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