Woman suffered ‘humiliating and degrading behaviour’

Ionut Ille (34) and Ancuta Schwarz (30) pleaded guilty in Belfast in 2014 to human trafficking.
Ionut Ille (34) and Ancuta Schwarz (30) pleaded guilty in Belfast in 2014 to human trafficking.

A Romanian woman who believed she was coming to Northern Ireland for legitimate employment was forced to work in brothels on both sides of the Irish border before being moved to Sweden.

The PSNI has highlighted the case to mark the UK’s Anti-Slavery Week 2017.

Ionut Ille (34) and Ancuta Schwarz (30) pleaded guilty in Belfast in 2014 to human trafficking, controlling prostitution and money laundering and were sentenced to two years. They had previously been jailed in Sweden for trafficking the same Romanian victim.

She revealed how she thought she was being brought to Ireland for legitimate work but was forced to work in brothels on both sides of the Irish border before being moved to Sweden.

In Belfast last year Judge Kerr said that the victim in the case, as with any trafficking case, would have been subject to “humiliating and degrading behaviour”.

The PSNI said an operation in Belfast in April 2013 linked to the case saw 13 trafficking victims rescued.

Rebecca Grounds from Women’s Aid said it supports around 20 victims a year. “While drugs and guns may be sold once for a profit, a woman’s body can be sold over and over again,” she said. “Most women have been kept in slavery through coercive control, physical abuse and often threats to the woman’s family and children. Many feel they cannot leave the exploitative situation even when an opportunity presents itself because of the fear of what would happen to her family.”