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Kept as a sex slave: A tragic consequence of Mali’s inter-tribal conflict | World News

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Precious can’t look me in the eye when I first say hello to her. It’s not that she’s shy, she’s petrified. And yet she’s agreed to speak to us on the condition that only myself and my cameraman, Dan, are present. Two men. It strikes me as a little odd, until we’re told that her ‘owner’ was a woman – even though she was forced to have sex with hundreds of men, she trusts us more than the other women around.

We meet her in hiding – she was freed only a few days ago and is now being kept in a safe house with other women who were also victims of human trafficking.

Precious was kept as a slave. A sex slave to be blunt, lured to Mali on the promise of a well-paid job in a supermarket, but sold to a Madame who forced her to have sex to pay her rent and food.

She was forced to swear a bizarre fetish oath, and then marked to identify her if she escaped.

She is in her early twenties and Precious isn’t her real name but her captors are looking for her, and she’s not safe in Mali, so we want to protect her real identity.

Her story is distressing.

“She [the Madame] cut my fingernails, the hair from my private parts, my armpits and my head… there were beatings and insults,” she says.

Sky's Alistair Bunkall
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Precious shows her bruises when she was beaten to have sex against her will

It’s estimated that 20,000 women from Nigeria alone have been sold into Malian prostitution rings in recent years. It’s an astonishing number. The vast majority of trafficking victims, around 97%, are women. It is one of the tragic consequences of Mali’s bitter inter-tribal conflict.

Once in Mali they have no money, no way of communicating with home or authorities and no chance of escape. They are trapped and at the mercy of their owners. If Precious didn’t make enough money on any day, she was beaten.

“Once she [the Madame] put my head in a bucket of water and held it there for 30 seconds,” she says.

Many of the women are sent to mines and factories across Mali and forced to have sex with the workers there. Very quickly the false promises of life in affluent western countries are exposed for the vicious lies they are.

Precious was kept with 15 other young women. Now free, she will be able to go back to Nigeria, helped by the International Organisation for Migration. They are one of the few charities working to stop a problem that is getting worse. With the country in vicious conflict, they are desperately up against it.

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Child among 22 migrants rescued from Channel by French authorities | World News

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French authorities have rescued 22 migrants who got into trouble while trying to cross the Channel.

The group, which included a woman and a child, was found roughly two miles off the coast of Dunkirk at about 1.30am on Sunday.

Authorities were alerted to the migrants’ plight by a ferry just after midnight and sent out search and rescue teams.

They were safely recovered and taken back to Dunkirk on board the RIAS Bee Languedoc.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson warned migrants not to attempt the Channel crossing, saying: “We will send you back.”

The prime minister said: “Clearly the most important thing is to stop them coming across from France so we are working very closely with the French authorities.

“The point I would just make to people thinking of making this journey – one, it is very hazardous, you may think the weather looks great but it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do.

“The second thing is – we will send you back. The UK should not be regarded as a place where you could automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally.”

His comments came after dozens of migrants were rescued off the British south coast on Thursday.

One witness told Sky News dozens of people were picked up and taken to Dover, in Kent.

The Home Office confirmed 37 migrants were rescued after four small boats were intercepted.

It said Home Secretary Priti Patel would be raising the issue with her French counterpart.

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Five Britons arrested and 100kg of drugs confiscated in Malaga | UK News

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A British criminal network has been foiled in Spain, with more than 100kg of drugs confiscated. 

Five Britons – three men and two women aged between 38 and 62 – have been arrested in connection with the network by the National Police in Malaga.

Five people were arrested. Pic: Policia Nacional
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Three men and two women have been arrested. Pic: Policia Nacional

Officers said they intercepted 52kg of a mix of marijuana and hash, and 51kg of vacuum-packed marijuana buds.

The police operation also saw the seizure of 23,000 euros (£21,000) in cash.

Drugs were being sent across Europe through couriers based in Malaga, and it is thought they were destined for countries including the UK, Sweden, Poland and Denmark.

The suspects allegedly took steps to avoid police, including frequently changing which vehicles they used and the homes they rented, officers said.

Some of the drugs were destined for the UK. Pic: Policia Nacional
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Some of the drugs were destined for the UK. Pic: Policia Nacional

A long-running police operation saw two parcel shipments intercepted at courier agencies in May, containing 58kg of drugs in seven boxes intended for Sweden, Poland and Denmark.

In subsequent shipments, the last one intercepted earlier in August, three packages containing 17kg of the drugs were prevented from reaching Sweden and the UK, the force said.

Police then carried out home searches once the suspects were identified, with a further 28kg uncovered in the raids.

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Hong Kong: Police use water cannon for first time against protesters | World News

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Hong Kong police have used water cannon against anti-government protesters for the first time during a second straight day of demonstrations.

There have been skirmishes between activists and officers following a pro-democracy march in an area known as the New Territories where tens of thousands took to the streets.

A large crowd then attended a rally in a park but another group of protesters took over a main street, putting up barricades with traffic barriers and cones.

Police tried to disperse them by firing tear gas but protesters reacted by throwing bricks and other objects towards the officers.

The violence came a day after similar clashes in the Kowloon Bay district where authorities arrested 29 people for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.

According to the South China Morning Post, the custom-built French trucks have 15 high-pressure cannons.

Two cannons on the roof can fire more than 1,200 litres of water a minute over a distance of 50 metres. The water can be mixed with tear gas or liquid dye as well.

According to guidelines, the cannons should only be aimed at the lower limbs of the protesters.

An assistant commissioner of police overseeing operations is allowed to authorise deployment of the water cannon after assessing threats.

The trucks arrived in the city in May last year.

More follows…

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