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Press releases archive

 

10-year-old girl trafficked to UK highlights continuing failure to protect child victims

17 October 2013

Ilyas and Tallat AsharThe decade-long enslavement of a 10-year-old Pakistani girl in Manchester has highlighted the desperate plight of child victims of trafficking in the UK and the urgent need to improve the response to children abused in domestic servitude.

The girl, who is profoundly deaf and non-verbal, was exploited in multiple ways – trapped in domestic servitude, sexually and physically abused, and used to enable the family to claim more than £30,000 in benefit fraud.

The young victim arrived in the UK aged 10 on a passport stating she was 20. Officials at Heathrow Airport missed the opportunity to identify the child as a potential victim of trafficking, and she entered the country, where she remained enslaved and abused for nearly 10 years.

Ilyas Ashar, 84, sexually abused the victim for nearly a decade, and she was forced to sleep on the floor of the cellar of the family house in Salford. After being convicted at a previous trial on human trafficking charges, he was yesterday (16 October) found guilty of 13 counts at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

At an earlier trial, the court heard the young girl, who was told both of her parents were dead, was made to cook, clean, wash clothes and iron, as well as clean houses and cars for other friends and family. In addition, she spent much of her time packing football shirts, clothes and phone covers in the cellar.

Ashar’s wife Tallat, 68, was also found guilty of trafficking charges, and his daughter Faaiza, 46, was found guilty of furnishing false information.

“This girl was deliberately chosen by the family because of her huge vulnerability – she was a young child in a strange country. She could not hear and she could not speak out about the abuse that was happening to her,” said Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns, ECPAT UK.

“Tragically, when she was brought into the UK, immigration officials had the opportunity to question why the family was bringing this child from Pakistan and why she had a passport saying she was 20 when she was very clearly a young child.

“We must question how such sickening abuse was allowed to go on for a decade. How was her name used to claim benefits, yet she never attended school and could not even read or write? In our experience, child victims of domestic servitude are frequently overlooked and remain hidden in our communities. The UK Government must examine its failings on domestic servitude and take urgent action to tackle trafficking head-on so that we do not continue to see children abused in this way time and time again.

“More than 200 years ago, the abolitionist William Wilberforce said: ‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.’ Many others will have witnessed the maltreatment of this child, but nothing was done. We must all recognise that it is our responsibility as citizens and as humans to report suspicions of abuse and face up to uncomfortable truths.”

All three of the Ashars will face sentencing at a later date.

ENDS

Media enquiries

For more information, please contact Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns, ECPAT UK, on 020 7233 9887 or c.setter@ecpat.org.uk

About ECPAT UK

ECPAT UK is a leading children’s rights charity working on the issues of child exploitation and child trafficking. It is active in campaigning and lobbying Government, producing research, training frontline professionals and working with young victims of trafficking. www.ecpat.org.uk

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