‘I was kidnapped in London and trafficked for sex’

Glasses, condoms, passport

Anna came to London from Romania intending to study, but first she needed to earn some money. She took temporary jobs – waitressing, cleaning, maths tutoring. Then one day in March 2011 she was snatched off the street, flown to Ireland and put through nine months of hell.

Anna was nearly home. There was just enough time to nip inside and eat lunch before leaving for her next cleaning job. She was wearing headphones and listening to Beyoncé singing I Was Here as she walked down the street in Wood Green, north London. She was just a few doors away.

She reached into her bag to pull out her keys when suddenly someone grabbed her by the neck from behind, covered her mouth, and dragged into the back of a dark red car.

There were three of them, two men and a woman. They were slapping her, punching her, and screaming threats in Romanian. Her ears were ringing. The woman in the passenger seat grabbed her bag and pulled the glasses from her face. If she didn’t do what they told her, they shouted, her family in Romania would be killed.

“I didn’t know what was happening or where they were taking me,” Anna says. “I was imagining everything – from organ harvesting or prostitution, to being killed, to God knows what.”