The story of a Ukrainian woman who escaped modern slavery in the UK. Annie Kelly reports
Julia remembers the moment when a lorry driver pointed at a compartment behind his seat and told her to get in.
“He starts screaming at me ‘quickly go here’ and he looks at me and I remember I didn’t know what to think,” Julia tells journalist Annie Kelly, editor of the Rights and Freedom project.
“I was scared, I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know what to think. I hear my heartbeat.”
In this four-part series, we hear from Julia on how she was taken from one life as a young mother in Ukraine and ended up in a very different one here in the UK, a life defined by exploitation and human trafficking. After five years trapped in debt bondage working in hotels and brothels, she was discovered by Surrey police in 2019. With the support of the anti-slavery charity Justice and Care, she took on her exploiters in court and won.
In episode one, Julia takes us on a journey into the world of people smuggling and illegal work in the UK. We hear how debt is one of the most powerful tools used by traffickers to obtain complete control over their victims.