Kidnapped and sold into sex slavery
A ROMANIAN woman who was snatched from a London street and trafficked as a sex slave has told of her horrifying ordeal - revealing she was forced to sleep with thousands of men.
Giving her name only as Anna, she was kidnapped in broad daylight just yards from her home in March 2011.
She was listening to music and reaching into her bag for her keys when she was grabbed by the neck and dragged into a car in Wood Green, North London.
Reliving the moment she was beaten into submission, Anna told BBC Outlook: "It's hard to scream when you feel so threatened. They had my papers, they knew where my mum was, they knew everything about me."
The gang of two men and one woman stole her passport from her bag and took her straight to the airport, where they forced her to board a flight.
Anna, who had worked as a cleaner and tutor in London, was then flown to Ireland - despite crying in front of airport staff.
But it was not until she landed that she realised that she was being sold into a sordid prostitution ring. "I was imagining everything - from organ harvesting or prostitution to being killed, to god knows what."
When a Romanian man who greeted terrified Anna at the small Irish airport told her captors: "At least this one looks better," she knew then that she was "going to be sold".
It was the beginning of nine months of hell as Anna was driven to a dingy apartment that reeked of sweat and alcohol.
Stripped of her clothes, Anna was forced into a red robe and flip-flops and told to stand against a satin sheet pinned to the wall for photographs to advertise her online.
Thousands of men responded to the ads and paid to have sex with Anna - whose name was changed to Natalia, Lara, Rachel and Ruby among countless others. Some days she was forced to sleep with up to 20 men and lived on scraps of food with little sleep.
Anna said of her "clients", who paid up to $231 to her captors: "They knew that we were kept there. They knew, but they didn't care."
A police raid - which mysteriously came after the kidnappers had fled - resulted in her arrest.
Despite pleading for officers to help her, she along with other victims were taken to court and fined for running a brothel.
She said: "I tried to tell them. Nobody listened."
After a brief hearing, she and the others were freed, but as soon as she left the courthouse, her captors were there, waiting, holding the car doors open.
After the raid, the girls were moved around - to different flats, hotels, cities. When Anna overheard her captors discussing taking her to the Middle East, she knew she had to escape.
She said: "I still didn't really know exactly where I was. But I knew that I had a better chance of escaping from Belfast, or Dublin, or wherever they had me than escaping from somewhere in the Middle East."
Despite her earlier dealings, Anna knew her best hope was to contact the police - realising for the first time that she was now in Northern Ireland.
Meeting an officer in a coffee shop, Anna said: "He took one of those white paper napkins and asked me to write down the names of the people who did this to me on it."
It turned out the cop had been looking for the people she named for years.
Her brave actions led to a two-year investigation resulting in each of her kidnappers being handed a two-year sentence. They served six months before sentencing, then eight months in prison, with the remainder of the sentence spent on supervised licence.
Anna said: "I was happy that they were arrested but I wasn't happy with the sentences. I guess nothing in this life is fair."
Since her ordeal, Northern Ireland has become the first and only place in the UK where buying sex is a crime.