Hungarian woman used as prostitute 'locked in room and raped'

Image caption The gang of four men and a woman targeted vulnerable women living in poverty-stricken parts of rural Hungary

An organised criminal gang of four men and a woman have been convicted of trafficking more than 50 Hungarian women in their teens and 20s into the UK, setting them up in brothels and hotels across the south-east of England as prostitutes.

BBC South East Home Affairs Correspondent Colin Campbell has visited Hungary, where he spoke to women used for sexual exploitation.

Scores of vulnerable women were recruited from the poverty-stricken streets of rural Hungary before being trafficked to the UK.

One of them was Leila Anotoni, who was advertised as "fresh meat" on a website advertising sexual services for sale and flown to England with the understanding she would be working in a massage parlour.

'Threatened with death'

Instead she said she was confined to hotel rooms in Brighton, Gatwick and across Kent, effectively kept as a sex slave.

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Media captionLeila Anotoni was brought to England to work in a massage parlour

She said in one day she could see up to five men, but she was unable to leave England as her passport had been taken and she had no money.

Mate Puskas, 25; Zoltan Mohacsi, 36; Istvan Toth, 34; his brother Peter Toth, 28, and Victoria Brown, 25, denied conspiracy to control prostitutes and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Their trial at Hove Crown Court heard how Brown collected the money Leila earned, while Puskas controlled and exploited her.

Others trafficked from Hungary were beaten, blackmailed, and even threatened with death.

Another tactic was for threats to be made against them and their families, and to expose the work they were doing in the UK in their home country.

'Locked in a room'

Charity worker Boglarka Fedorko, of SZEXE - the Hungarian association of sex workers - said sex trafficking was an issue being left in the shadows.

"These people who are living under segregated circumstances are excluded from basic social services, such as education and health services.

"They are becoming the victims of trafficking," she said.

One young woman, Liza, was abused by another gang of traffickers.

She said: "I was locked in a room, they used drugs on me and then raped me.

"When they finished they spat on me and laughed."

It was poor Roma communities in the south east of Hungary that the gang preyed on.

A mother with six daughters told me many teenage girls had left her neighbourhood to work overseas as prostitutes.

It is the promise of a better life overseas which lured many of the young women from rural Hungarian villages into the clutches of people traffickers.

Those I spoke to said it was poverty and lack of job opportunities which were the causes of prostitution.

But it is the traffickers who get rich.

It is claimed the Toth brothers were making £20,000 a week.

Leila has now returned to college, but many like her continue to come to the UK - trafficked by criminals who exploit, control and degrade them for financial gain.

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