In her cramped bedsit in a northern English town, Min talks about the man who brought her here from China. She says that her family were being harassed by the police because they were members of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong. So her grandmother put her into the hands of someone who said he would help her start a new life in Britain.
The journey was more than five years ago, but she still starts to cry when she talks about it. “We stayed in one place for two months, then moved to another place for four months,” she says. “He hit me, kept me incarcerated and told me I couldn’t leave. He said if I tried to escape they would kill my grandmother.”
Their final destination was a cannabis factory in England, where she was again held prisoner. “I had to water the plants. I slept on a small bed and never went outside.” One day her ordeal in the house came to a sudden end. “The police knocked on the door, burst in and two of them grabbed me.”
Min was charged with cannabis cultivation and sentenced to 12 months in prison. It was only after she finished the sentence that the UK Border Agency acknowledged she was “reasonably likely” to be a victim of trafficking.
The question of how the police and courts should treat people like Min, who commit crimes as a result of being trafficked, is currently the focus of a fierce legal battle in the UK and Europe.
Source: The Guardian