"Not allowed to talk, not allowed to cry, only work"- FreedomUnited.org

“Not allowed to talk, not allowed to cry, only work”

  • Published on
    July 4, 2024
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Survivor Stories
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Tania* bravely shares her story of brutal exploitation, dehumanization, and cruel physical abuse she experienced as a modern-day slave in the U.K. Tania, a Latvian woman seeking a better life and dreaming of pursuing a career in archaeology, arrived in the U.K. with a six-month work visa and promise of employment through an agency back in Latvia. Upon arriving in London, her passport was confiscated. She was told she owed £10,000 for the journey, and when she asked any questions, they beat her until she stopped. Tania picked crops for up to 20 hours a day, seven days a week, under the constant threat of violence for the next 15 years.

15 years of brutal exploitation and abuse

Tania was forced to work on farms across England. She along with a crew of other agricultural forced laborers, were paid 30 pence a day, forced to sleep in shipping containers, and beaten if they spoke.

“We became slaves, not allowed to talk, not allowed to cry, only work,” she said.

As reported by the BBC,

“The gang would sometimes make us drink water from a puddle for a laugh, and when someone complained of toothache, they would use a hammer,” Tania said.

“It felt much easier when they beat me because it’s a physical pain and you can hold it, but you cannot hold the moral pain of them beating others because it breaks you.

“I once caught them hitting a 16-year-old boy. I started shouting at them, calling them animals, they put me in the boot of a car. I was very calm in this moment because it was better to be killed then see this anymore.”

Tania came close to death on a number of occasions. She said people passed the fields every day, but despite many of the workers resembling “skeletons”, nobody alerted the authorities.

The journey to freedom and advocacy

Tania finally escaped in 2017, seeking help from a Citizens Advice Bureau. She was referred to a women’s safe house run by Unseen, where she received support and began her journey for recovery. Tania now advocates for greater awareness of modern slavery, urging the public to recognize and report signs of exploitation.

Unseen U.K. manages a Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline, which saw a significant rise in calls from 9,779 in 2022 to 11,700 in 2023. Alice, the helpline manager, emphasized the importance of recognizing signs of exploitation, such as control over individuals, lack of personal belongings, and signs of abuse.

We all must contribute to the fight to end modern slavery. Tania’s story is a powerful call to action. The U.K. government urgently needs to address and regulate labor recruitment agencies and ensure that no migrant care worker gets into the hands of unscrupulous employers.

As the world’s largest community against modern slavery, we have the power to call on governments to ensure migrant workers everywhere are protected from exploitation. Sign our petition to call for genuine anti-trafficking immigration policies.


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Tui Hendry
Tui Hendry
18 days ago

My utmost respect to Tania for her enormous courage, for surviving what she did, then dedicating her freedom to helping others caught the same way.

17 days ago

I can never understand why people do things like this.Abusing their power instead of having compassion for human beings and helping them out.

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