In this podcast, Henriette Akofa reveals just what it is like to be modern day slave in Europe.
Aged just 14, Akofa arrived in France from Togo, after accepting the promises of “Simone” that in return for working in a fashion boutique, she would go to school and live a better life.
Instead, Akofa was made to sleep in a small corner on a kitchen, given meagre monthly rations and worked day and night without pay. When she protested, the teenager was “sold” to another family, which needed round-the-clock help with child care and domestic chores.
“I was a slave,” says the victim of labour exploitation, who was a keynote speaker at a 16 June Strasbourg conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe’s anti-human trafficking treaty.
“The only difference was that they didn’t buy me from my parents. But they betrayed my trust and that of my parents.
“I was promised education in return for my help. I knew that what was happening to me was unfair because I had a family before and knew how human beings should be treated.”
After five years, police rescued Akofa from her Paris torment. She remained in hospital for six months to recover from the medical problems brought on by her experience of modern slavery.