A young Romanian-born woman kidnapped in London and sold into the sex slave industry in Ireland has published the story of her brutal existence in a Galway brothel.
The woman, known simply as Anna, still lives in fear seven years after the ordeal.
Anna told her story to Northern Ireland author Jason Johnson who wrote the harrowing book “Slave” based on her accounts.
In 2011, a then 21-year-old Anna was kidnapped from the street in London and sold to a Romanian-run brothel near Salthill in Galway for €30,000 ($35,584).
Along with the other women at the brothel, Anna was advertised on a legal escort website. She was kept prisoner, tortured, and forced to have sex with thousands of men by her depraved captives.
“They were the toughest months of my life. I was kept locked up. If I asked for food I was beaten, if I tried to sleep I was beaten and raped,” Anna told the Belfast Telegraph.
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“They beat you where people could not see, on the head because you have hair and on your body, but never on the face. Nobody cared about the bruises on your body. These people had all the skills to be violent. They beat you to break you and make you do things for them.”
“I don’t think a person could be deprived of so much. I don’t know how I got through it.
“I just had to breathe and keep everything inside and develop a plan to get out of there.”
Anna eventually was sent to Belfast where she made her escape, and helped police bring a successful prosecution.
The college educated woman, who has a background in nursing and psychology before her capture in London, has gone on to help change the law on sex slavery in Northern Ireland, making it more difficult for this evil trade to continue.
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Anna hopes to establish a charity for victims of the sex slave trade and has collaborated on her book to help raise awareness and also to reassure victims that they, too, can start over.
Recalling the moment where she eventually was able to escape, Anna reveals that one day she was brought to a property in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, where she was heartbroken to see five men there instead of one.
The men made her strip, saw her body covered in bruises and asked that she put her clothes back on.
One of the men known as “Andy” had been a well-known Belfast drug dealer and criminal who had set up the date with Anna because he wanted to find out information with a view to setting up his own brothel. But even this hardened criminal was shocked by both her physical and mental state, and offered to help her if she ever needed it.
When the moment for escape came, she made her way to Andy, the only person she knew in Ireland at the time He gave her shelter where she hid out for months before ultimately going to the police and collaborating with the PSNI’s Human Trafficking team.
The team has just began working with the Metropolitan Police in London, with Europol and EuroJust, the Romanian police and, later, the Swedish police, where Anna’s pimps were now plying their trade.
In 2012 an anti-human trafficking bill was put forward at Stormont Parliament which aimed to deter actions of sex traffickers. Along with a new journalist friend, Tom, Anna met with Lord Maurice Morrow, who had proposed the bill and with then First Minister Peter Robinson.
The proposed change to existing laws was known internally as “Anna’s Law”.
In 2014 Northern Ireland voted in support of a law change, the strongest anti-trafficking laws at that point making it illegal to buy sex.
Lord Morrow said of the young campaigner, “Anna is a woman of immense fortitude. Her story broke my heart, absolutely stunned me. What is going on in this country, across the UK, in terms of human trafficking is horrifying. Anna proved to be an inspiration to me as I sought to bring the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act through the Northern Ireland Assembly.”