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Caritas Bakhita House helps secure sentences for traffickers

Caritas Bakhita House has helped to secure jail sentences for two traffickers operating in London. The two men were sentenced to 15 and 16 years in prison. The team at Bakhita House acted as the main point of contact for the victim in her communications with the Metropolitan police. The project, which is managed by Caritas Westminster, played a vital role in ensuring that these two men were convicted and sentenced for their crimes. In addition to thisBakhita House provided practical support to the victim and organised for her to make a safe return to her home country, in partnership with Intenational Justice Mission and the UK police.

The victim of this crime arrived in the UK from Romania in April 2019 on the understanding that she would be working in a factory. Instead, she was trafficked and forced into prostitution. She only escaped from her situation by acquiring a mobile phone and contacting her family to tell them what had happened. Her family then made contact with the Romanian police who alerted the UK police. She was rescued by the Metropolitan police and was taken to the safety of Caritas Bakhita House to begin her recovery. She was seven months pregnant when she arrived at the house.

Bakhita House offered the victim immediate medical support. Upon arrival, she was registered with a midwife and the local doctor’s surgery. She was also supported through sexual health checks and necessary vaccinations. The team helped her to apply for a HC2 certificate which allowed her to access free medical treatment, including access to an eye test and prescription glasses. She was also provided with necessary clothing and toiletries.

In addition to medical support, she was given the opportunity to develop skills and maintain contact with family at home. During her stay, she attended English classes to improve her written and spoken English and was also provided with budgeting lessons. She received a second-hand smartphone in order to stay in regular contact with her family in Romania and assure them that her welfare was being looked after. One of the volunteers at Caritas Bakhita House speaks Romanian and was able to assist the team for the duration of the guest’s stay.

It was the wish of this guest to have her baby at home in Romania. This was achieved in a short time frame thanks to the combined efforts of Bakhita House, the UK police and International Justice Mission, who worked together to ensure that the safety of the mother and unborn child would be protected once she left Bakhita House. A support plan and risk assessment were completed. The police accompanied her to the Romanian embassy in the UK to obtain a temporary travel document as she was not in possession of a passport or ID card. International Justice Mission has taken responsibility for her care and support in Romania, including collection from the airport, facilitating her return to her family and establishing contact with local agencies and support networks.

Karen Anstiss, Service Manager at Caritas Bakhita House, said:

‘This result shows that three different agencies with varying roles can work well together, putting the needs of the victim and her unborn child first, but also securing convictions against those who are fuelled by their own greed. Human traffickers have no conscience about the hurt and pain they inflict on others in order to bring about the money they crave.’

To find out more information about Caritas Bakhita House, contact caritaswestminster@rcdow.org.uk or visit www.caritaswestminster.org.uk/bakhita-house.php.

You can support the work of Caritas Bakhita House at bit.ly/caritasbakhitahousedonations.