- Ricardo Senra – @ricksenra
- From BBC Brazil in London
All steps monitored remotely by cell phone. A hidden camera in the bedroom and threats to send intimate videos to family members. Passport, documents and money confiscated. Contact with friends prohibited. A forced sex routine with 15 to 20 clients a day.
This was the daily life of three Brazilian women rescued from work analogous to slavery by the police, in northwest London, in a complex investigation that began in March of last year.
The case came to an end on August 9, when Shana Stanley, a 29-year-old woman, and Hussain Edanie, a 31-year-old man, confessed to crimes of control of prostitution and organization of travel with the intention of exploitation, involving the three Brazilian women and an English victim.
They were convicted and imprisoned – Edani received a sentence of 8 years and 2 months and Stanley 3 years and 7 months.
Details of the case were obtained exclusively by BBC News Brasil and illustrate the serious risks associated with easy promises of travel and scholarships abroad.
“They sold me a dream that turned into a nightmare”, says today one of the Brazilians, who is still recovering from a frightening sequence of abuses in the underworld of the English capital.
The identities of all victims were preserved in this report.
“Your death certificate”
The three Brazilians arrived in England in 2020, after receiving a “scholarship” for an English course that would last a few weeks.
Police did not provide details on how the victims were approached.
Shortly after disembarking, however, they became victims of a lucrative human trafficking market that, according to the UN, affects 2.5 million people every year and moves more than 30 billion dollars.
“Thanks to the courage and bravery of the victims, we were able to gather irrefutable evidence that left Edani and Stanley to have no choice but to plead guilty, which will prevent them from harming others,” says Detective Pete Brewster, one of those responsible. by the investigation.
It all started after one of the Brazilians asked the police for help, in March of last year, after an argument with the woman recently convicted by the British justice.
During the fight, the victim even tried to call the police, but was pushed by Stanley, who then, according to official records, threatened her:
“You signed your own death certificate.”
This was the trigger for the Brazilian to insist on seeking police protection and showing photos of the explorer, starting the investigation conducted by the Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation team of the Met Police, in London.
In testimony, the victim said that, shortly after starting her English course in Manchester, she was asked to travel to London to meet the woman with whom she had negotiated the scholarship.
Upon meeting her, he heard that he would have to sign a contract, otherwise “he would not be able to return to Brazil”, “he would have to live on the streets of London” and “he would never see his family again”.
The contract, according to the police, called for the Brazilian “to sell her body”. To investigators, she said she had no alternatives and that she signed the document out of fear of not being able to return to Brazil.
History repeated itself with the other Brazilians, who also arrived in England after a promise to study English with a course, accommodation and paid tickets.
They were required to be able to earn £500 a day with programs (the equivalent of R$3,500 a day). In return, they received a weekly payment of £250 (R$1750), plus £50 (R$350) for food.
In order to achieve the high price stipulated by the exploiters, women often had to meet with 15 to 20 clients in a single day, according to police.
The amount confiscated by the couple would serve, according to them, to pay the costs of the trip that the girls believed they had earned for free.
In the bedrooms, everything was filmed by cameras controlled by the couple. They told victims that they would send the images to their families “if they didn’t do what they were asked to do.”
The level of control over the steps of Brazilian women went beyond.
The young women received work cell phones, through which they received information about customer schedules via WhatsApp and had their movements monitored by GPS.
For a time, they were forced to accompany them to the English course – but were soon forced to drop out of classes.
Under British law, prostitution – or offering sexual services for money – is a legal activity. On the other hand, the exploitation of prostitution – through figures popularly known as pimps or cafetinas – and the existence of brothels or brothels is prohibited throughout the territory.
In the report, London police said they “take all reports of contemporary slavery extremely seriously and are committed to prosecuting those who engage in this pernicious crime”.
The corporation also says that it “encourages anyone who has suffered from this type of crime to report them” and that allegations will be “handled with sensitivity” and “scrupulously investigated”.
In April 2020, the month following the Brazilian’s complaint, London police carried out search and seizure warrants at the couple’s addresses and collected cell phones, documents, price lists and boxes of condoms.
Thousands of pounds in cash deposits were identified in the pair’s bank accounts.
It was after these searches that investigators were able to identify the English victim, a woman believed to have been identified by model agents.
After receiving gifts and having expenses paid by the couple, she was forced to “pay the debt” and forced into prostitution.
“Edani and Stanley lured victims with false promises to manipulate and exploit them for personal financial gain. They had absolutely no respect for the victims or their well-being, including making them work long hours for very little in return – even when they didn’t feel well,” says Detective Brewster.
“The only thing that mattered to them was how much money they could make.”
how to protect yourself
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), women and girls account for 72% of human trafficking cases in the world.
In cases involving females, 83% are linked to sexual exploitation, 13% to forced labor and 4% to other purposes.
Among men, the proportion is almost inverted: 82% are trafficked for forced labor, 10% for sexual exploitation, 1% for organ removal and 7% for other purposes.
The National Council of Justice makes six recommendations for people to protect themselves from scams involving human trafficking.
The most important is to doubt proposals for studies or “easy and profitable” work.
Whenever you receive a proposal, ask for official documents, read contracts and seek information about the authors of the offer with legal assistance.
When proposals include domestic and international travel, attention to these details must be even greater.
The Council also recommends that people keep their personal documents secure and avoid sharing copies with acquaintances or friends.
Before traveling, share the address, telephone number and location in the city you are traveling to with people you trust and keep the telephone numbers and addresses of consulates, NGOs working with Brazilians and authorities in the destination region always at hand.
In addition, it is important to maintain frequent communication with family and friends. If something happens and communication breaks down, they will notice something is off and take action.
If you know or suspect cases of human trafficking in Brazil, report it by calling 100. In the UK, suspicions can be reported to the police by calling 999.
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