A charity is calling on the Home Office to halt the forced deportation of a trafficked Ghanian woman who was forced into prostitution and who is HIV positive.
Felicia Adjei, who was trafficked into the UK eight years ago, is facing removal to Ghana on Friday evening. She is currently waiting in an immigration detention centre.
Before being taken to the detention centre, she was supported in safe accommodation by the Poppy project. Abigail Stepnitz, the project’s national co-ordinator, said she will be forcibly deported despite an outstanding judicial review involving her case.
The project provides support and accommodation for women trafficked to the UK for forced prostitution or domestic servitude. It is run by Eaves, a women’s charity that campaigns to end all aspects of violence against women.
The Poppy project says Adjei is from a poor rural family and experienced extensive physical abuse from her father as a young girl. Eight years ago she was sent to the UK by her father and expected to study or work legally and send money home to support her family.
She was apparently held in a house for nearly three years, during which men came to the house at least three times a week and raped her. Sometimes her food was drugged, so she began refusing to eat or drink, but was violently forced to do so. Adjei was not paid and became pregnant after a rape and contracted HIV.
The project says Adjei has only just begun to recover from the things that happened to her but will not do so if she is forced to return to Ghana.
“Not only are the relevant services not in place, but the social stigma and pressures she will experience will prevent her from recovering and may endanger her life,” the Poppy project said in a statement. It said that becoming pregnant outside of marriage is considered taboo in Adjei’s village. She remembers a villager who became pregnant after being raped, who killed herself after being insulted and physically abused for years. Adjei fear the same thing with happen to her, it added.
Jeremy Oppenheim, UK Border Agency regional director for the North-East, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This country has a proud history of providing refuge to those in genuine need of our protection. Every case is carefully considered on its individual merits and taking into consideration the situation in the country of origin.
“When the UK Border Agency and the Immigration Tribunal find someone is not in need of our protection, we expect the person to leave voluntarily. If they fail to do so, we will seek to enforce their removal.”
She is due to be deported on a Virgin flight that leaves London Heathrow for Accra at 10.20pm on Friday. The charity has lobbied the airline to halt the deportation, but Virgin referred all calls to the Home Office. According to the UN, the government of Ghana lacks shelter facilities for victims of sex trafficking.