Mary Adenguba Johnson with her husband Barry Johnson. Photo credit: HuffPost/Emma Youle

U-Turn on Deportation of Nigerian Trafficking Victim

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Human TraffickingLaw & PolicySurvivor Stories

The UK Home Office has made a u-turn in its decision to deport a Nigerian woman who was trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation.

Mary Adenguba Johnson had been branded an illegal immigrant and told to leave the country despite being married to a UK national and a recognized victim of human trafficking by the government.

“I thank God,” she said. “I should not have been treated like that by the Home Office. I had no choice, I had to keep fighting. It gave me anxiety, severe depression, nightmares and panic attacks. But I feel relieved now.”

HuffPost reports:

The decision brings to an end 14 years of turmoil for the modern slavery victim who suffers from severe anxiety and PTSD as a result of her traumatic past.

The ruling has also been welcomed by her British husband Barry Johnson, who faced a forced move to Nigeria to remain with his wife even though he has never set foot in the country and it was unclear whether he could legally remain there.

Barry, 71, told HuffPost UK: “Mary should have been given asylum in the first place as a victim of trafficking and particularly as the victim of trafficking within the UK.

“It’s complicated to look at reasons why victims struggle to get out of that situation, but one of them is the fact that the Home Office then prefers to treat them as an illegal immigrant rather than as a victim of trafficking.”

Adenugba Johnson explained that she had been tricked into coming to the UK in 2004 upon becoming homeless when her mother, two sisters, and her daughter were been killed in an explosion in Lagos.

“I was brought in by a generous man named Uncle Kay but I did not know that he was just going to take me to be used as a harlot. So that is how I was put in that situation.”

Shadow immigration minister Afzal Khan MP backed Adenugba Johnson’s case, adding that she should never have had to go through this ordeal by the Home Office.

“It is utterly unacceptable that the government only responded when Mary’s case got media attention. This is part of a clear pattern of high profile cases getting a swift resolution, while the government sweep widespread injustices under the carpet,” he said.

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