Trafficked girl tells court of her life as slave


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The Independent Online

A deaf girl allegedly kept in a cellar, raped, beaten and treated as a slave has told a court of the years of cruelty she endured.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, described almost a decade of alleged abuse after being trafficked from Pakistan to Britain in 2000. She was brought to Eccles, Greater Manchester, supposedly to work as a domestic help – despite being only 10 or 12 at the time. Ilyas Ashar, 83, and his wife, Tallat Ashar, 66, from Eccles, deny charges including false imprisonment and human trafficking.

The orphan was slapped, beaten, sexually abused and hit with a rolling pin while forced to work for no money during the day at the couple's home, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester was told. At night, she was forced to sleep on the concrete floor of a cellar with the door bolted, the jury heard.

Her true age is not known, but it is thought she was aged between 10 and 12 when she came to the UK. Asked about her life, she told the jury using sign language via an interpreter: "I was sad and weak because I was working so hard ... They used to hit me all the time.

"She [Tallat Ashar] used to hit me with her ring, she used to hit me in the face and cut my face with her ring ... I would sit there for a long, long time, really upset and crying. I could not get out."

The court heard that the girl has no family in the UK, has never been to school, and cannot read or write. Earlier, the trial was told she lived in a "state of servitude" and was an ideal target for exploitation because of her vulnerability. It was also alleged that state benefits were claimed in her name but never handed over. She was also shown a photo of Mr Ashar, who allegedly repeatedly raped the girl. "The old man, he's bad," she replied, "He's the one who has sex with me."

The jury viewed police interviews with the girl describing her life at the hands of her alleged abusers. There are 14 interviews, which will be watched by the jury over the next few days.

The witness, now believed to be aged between 19 and 21, will then be cross-examined by lawyers for the defence.

Ilyas and Tallat Ashar both deny two counts of human trafficking into the UK for exploitation and a single count of false imprisonment.

Mr Ashar also denies 12 counts of rape, Mrs Tallat denies one count of sexual assault and unlawful wounding and the pair along with their daughter Faaiza, 44, deny charges of benefit fraud.

The trial continues.