Sex trafficking victims win record payout

Moldovan women kept as sex slaves in London win £600,000 compensation
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The Independent Online

Four Eastern European women kept as sex slaves have won more than £600,000 damages against a people trafficker and his wife who imprisoned and abused them in brothels across London.

In the landmark case, the women, who cannot be named, were tricked into coming to Britain after being promised jobs as dancers. Instead they ended up working 20 hours a day as prostitutes and were forced to have sex with up to 40 men.

Identified only as AT, NT, ML and AK, the young women, all from Moldova, told the High Court in London of their terrifying and abusive ordeals. Speaking from behind a black screen they described how they were fed just one meal a day, charged for the use of knives and forks and fined if they refused unprotected sex or clients' perverted demands.

Mr Justice Treacy ordered Gavril and Tamara Dulghieru, who are already serving prison sentences for trafficking offences, to pay the four women a total of £611,000 damages.

When police raided properties across the capital the rescued women were found to be suffering from devastating psychiatric symptoms, ranging from deep depression to post traumatic stress disorder. Police also uncovered bogus and stolen passports, other identity documents, card-cloning equipment and more than £146,000 of cash.

At Isleworth Crown Court in London in November 2005 Gavril Dulghieru, then 36, from south-west London, was jailed for nine years after admitting conspiring to traffic in prostitution, trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation and plotting to facilitate unlawful immigration between 23 February 2003 and 30 April 2004.

His wife Tamara, then 31, was jailed for five years after being found guilty of immigration, fraud, forgery and money-laundering offences. She was cleared of trafficking in prostitution.

Mr Justice Treacy said that each of the claimants was conned into leaving Moldova and thought they were coming to work as dancers. But the conspirators planned to "sexually enslave" them by keeping them captive and putting them to work in brothels.

The judge, whose task was to assess the damages, said he accepted that the women's evidence was truthful. The "continuing harmful effects from their ordeals were still apparent to me", he said.

The women said that on some days they had to have sex with up to 40 men. One of the brothels in Greek Street, Soho, was known to some of the women as "the slaughter house". They were told they had to pay £300 daily "rent", and owed the criminal gang £20,000 for bringing them to Britain, and never saw a penny of their earnings.

One of the women, NT, now 24, told the judge that the perverted demands she was forced to comply with left her feeling humiliated and suicidal. She fears that if her parents find out what happened to her they will disown her.

ML, now 25, described an atmosphere of fear in the brothels in which women were told their conversations were being recorded. The prospect of selling her body was appalling to her, but she felt powerless to resist. Suffering from depression and post traumatic stress disorder, she told the judge she still finds it difficult to go out unaccompanied.

AK, now 29, has also been diagnosed with depression and post traumatic stress disorder. AT, now 26, had to be taken to hospital after her first day at the brothel and given painkillers.

The judge said of the case: "There has not been cited to me any case comparable to this one. Such examples as there are of damages relating to sexually related misconduct involve acts by one individual against another, generally over a relatively short period."

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