Sunday 17 December 2017

Embassy staff kept two women as slaves

Homeless charity claims victims had their passports taken away, were beaten, raped and forced into prostitution

The charity alleges that the women came to Ireland on diplomatic visas and were employed by the embassies to work for embassy staff in Ireland
The charity alleges that the women came to Ireland on diplomatic visas and were employed by the embassies to work for embassy staff in Ireland

Niamh horan

Staff who worked at two embassies in Dublin have been allegedly involved in trafficking vulnerable young women into Ireland to work as slave labour.

And in one case, a young woman was raped and later forced into sex work, according to a leading charity, the Daisyhouse Housing Association.

It is alleged that one of the women was beaten with a belt while the other was 'punished' by being left outside in the rain for hours.

The charity, which supports women in vulnerable situations, has said that the women are currently undergoing counselling.

The charity alleges that the women came to Ireland on diplomatic visas and were employed by the embassies to work for embassy staff in Ireland.

All the embassy staff involved have since left the country or have been reassigned elsewhere since the sordid details came to the attention of authorities.

In one case, a 27-year-old woman was hospitalised due to the violence.

In the other, the 25-year-old woman was repeatedly raped by her employer.

The woman was kept captive in a room and was only let out to do her work. She was raped by the staff member 'employing' her and was later forced into prostitution.

The abuse happened at the homes of staff who worked at the embassies and not inside the foreign missions themselves.

Both women had their passports taken from them by their tormentors.

This weekend, Orla Gilroy, CEO of Daisyhouse, said: "We understand that some of these cases are very challenging, given the parties involved and given that the perpetrators have now fled the country.

"The gardai have been both supportive and respectful of all of these women and their situations and for this we are very grateful."

However, she said: "It is deeply concerning that there is so much unseen violence and abuse behind closed doors in our country.

"These particular women came to Ireland in the hope of a better life. They came with people they thought they could trust.

"They came through the appropriate channels. They were let down by those people and held against their will until they managed to escape.

"If it hadn't been for the kindness of a number of strangers, we dread to think what might have happened to them. We believe, based on what we have been told by the woman themselves, that they would be dead."

Ms Gilroy described the vulnerable condition that the women were in when they came to the attention of the charity:

"The women were 'fractured', emotionally and physically. One of the women had lost most of her hair due to the stress of her situation.

"Another was two stone under her 'appropriate' weight. The women hardly spoke for the first few months. They would hardly leave their rooms.

"The physical and emotional scars were clear to us. They were deeply depressed and one was suicidal. It took them time to realise they were safe and to trust the staff.

"We would ask people in the community if you are aware of situations of abuse of anyone, to please notify your local garda station or an organisation that can help. Your call may just save a life."

Daisyhouse Housing Association is a non-government-funded 26-year-old registered charity and an approved housing body which supports women to get out of homelessness.

The women they care for are homeless due to domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual abuse, prison sentences, addiction, coming out of HSE care, ill health, relationship breakdown, human trafficking, loss of income and the death of a partner, as well as various other reasons.

The organisation provides this safe space and time with specialist support competencies through uniquely tailored individual personal-support programmes and fully supported settlement service programmes to the women.

The service helps them to rebuild their lives so they can break the cycle of homelessness and move forward.

It also provides them with a comprehensive resettlement programme. Due to the housing crises, the women can often be with the charity for a number of years.

Sunday Independent

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