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Revisited: Trafficked: Marta – part four – podcast

This week we are revisiting the Trafficked series. This episode was first broadcast on 26 March 2023. Since this series was published, the Illegal Migration Act 2023 has passed into law.

On the morning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Julia is on her way home from a night shift when a friend sends her a text. It’s a video of a bombing taking place only 30 miles away from where her daughter Marta lives.

“My daughter needs me, she needs my help, and I’ve been ready to leave everything,” Julia tells the journalist Annie Kelly, the editor of the Guardian’s Rights and Freedom project.

Julia had been waiting for a decision from the Home Office on her asylum application. At this point, she’s not seen her daughter for about eight years. Now it is a race against time to get her teenage daughter to safety.

In this four-part series, we hear from Julia on how she was taken from one life as a young mother in Ukraine and ended up in a very different one here in the UK; a life defined by exploitation and human trafficking.

After five years trapped in debt bondage working in hotels and brothels, she was discovered by Surrey police in 2019. With the support of the anti-slavery charity Justice and Care, she took on her exploiters in court and won.

In the final episode, we hear about how Julia navigates the asylum system and attempts to reunite with her daughter Marta. Also, Ahmed Aydeed, the director of public law at Duncan Lewis, explains how the government’s illegal migration bill will impact modern slavery victims.

Illustrative graphic showing silhouette of a young woman's face with a tank, soldiers and a mother and daughter embracing within

Composite: Guardian Design/Getty Images/Reuters

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