Survivor Story

Real case study of modern slavery in the UK – Yusuf’s Story

Yusuf, from the Horn of Africa, was seven years old when he was adopted. His new father was a teacher and his mother a housewife. At first things were good and Yusuf went to school. But soon he fell behind doing all the chores his mother wanted him to do and she accused him of stealing from her and told her husband that Yusuf had to go. He was only ten years old and for some time slept on their veranda hoping they would take him back. But they never did.

From then on Yusuf became a street child and earnt some money running errands. When he was 13 he met a man who said he would help him and send him to school. He said he would have to go away for a short time but would come back. Before he left he took photos of Yusuf, naked from the waist up. When the man returned, he took Yusuf to the capital and told him that he had found a family abroad to adopt him. Yusuf agreed and had a haircut and new clothes bought for him. They flew to Heathrow and were met at the airport by a middle aged white man. The two men knew each other and the boy was taken to the Englishman’s house. The trafficker said that the Englishman would become Yusuf’s father.

Yusuf stayed in the house for more than a month. The man asked Yusuf to sleep with him, and thinking he was being affectionate, Yusuf shared his bed. Gradually, the man started to abuse Yusuf. The abuse continued for the whole time Yusuf was there. They would go for walks together with the man’s dog, so Yusuf vaguely knew the area, and he began to think about escape. One day Yusuf ran away and found himself at a train station. He spent all day looking for someone who might understand him, as he barely spoke English. Finally a man asked him if something was wrong and Yusuf was able to communicate that he needed help. The man took Yusuf to an organisation that could help him and keep him safe.

This case has since been investigated by the police, but Yusuf was never able to pinpoint where the flat was. Yusuf is now being looked after by social services and has been granted leave to remain.

Case study courtesy of ECPAT