SA woman tells of ‘sex slave hell’

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Imogan Adams describes her ordeal in Turkey where she claims she was expected to perform sexual acts while employed as a dancer. Photo: Phill Magakoe

Escaping from certain “hell” a Pretoria teenager has described how what seemed a dream job opportunity turned into a nightmare when attempts were made to force her into prostitution.

Speaking from her parents’ flat in Centurion this week, 19-year-old Imogan Adams, told how she, along with numerous other young South African women, were allegedly enslaved and exploited in Turkey.

“It was hell. What they wanted us to do was wrong.

“We never signed up to do what they wanted us to do,” said Imogan.

For Imogan, the opportunity offered by Germiston-based dance company, RT Concerts, appeared to be the chance of a lifetime.

“I have been dancing for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child I have been dancing. It is what I was born to do,” she said.

Imogan said when she heard that she had been accepted to dance abroad, she thought her career was about to take off.

“I was so excited. The pictures they showed us of the hotels and the places where we were going to work looked wonderful. We were told that we were going to dance in several shows and that it would be at hotels where we would work on six-month contracts.”

That dream, according to Imogan, was shattered shortly after arriving in Istanbul.

“Within days we were given a new contract that we had to sign. We were told that we had to do ‘hosting’ at the hotels after the shows and that it had to be with men who came to the shows.”

Known as a “con”, Imogan and another girl, Tracey (not her real name), said the hosting involved talking to and “entertaining” the men.

“These men wanted sex. That was why they were there. They were not there just to watch. They wanted to touch and have sex.

“They would watch the show and then they chose who they wanted to be with. Because prostitution is illegal they would not give us money. Instead they’d walk past or up to you and give you a token like a casino chip. When they give you this it means they want you.”

Imogan said they had to dress in short tight miniskirts and high-heeled shoes.

“We had to dress up and make the men want us. We were instructed to get them to spend money at the hotels that we were dancing at and that we must ‘flirt’ with them. The men, from across the world, would buy us gifts and in exchange we would be expected to give them sex,” Imogan said.

She said that when she started refusing, she was “fired”.

“It was difficult to contact our families and when I wanted to leave I was threatened and told that I had to pay out the contract,” she said.

For Tracey (not her real name) the threat is the same.

“I want to stop, but I can’t. We have been told that if we want to break the contract, then we have to pay back all the money and I don’t have the R30 000 to pay back.

“I am upset because they have not been paying us properly. They were meant to pay us R6 000 a month, but they deducted R4 000 from us for ‘medical insurance and other costs’.

“When we asked when we would get the rest of the money, they promised us soon, but we have yet to get it. We were told we would get our monthly salaries and then commission from the ‘cons’.

“We only found out about the ‘cons’ once we arrived in Turkey and only then after we signed the new contracts which we were told were for our protection.

“What is happening is unfair, but we are scared because if we leave we get nothing and have to pay the company back,” she said.

After eventually making contact with her mother, Imogan, through the help of the South African High Commission, managed to return to South Africa.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela confirmed they had provided assistance. “In this particular incident the young women allegedly went to Turkey under a false premise. The high commission stepped in to assist when it became evident that they were being exploited and put them in contact with their families and facilitated their return home,” he said.

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Tshikaretau, wrote

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02:28pm on 20 February 2012
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RT Concerts can meet every entertainment needs, that is on their website

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Anonymous, wrote

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04:21am on 20 February 2012
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Good work for speaking out ! I am a 32 yr old who found a chilminding job in Ireland through an online agency and when I arrived the job was real but the working conditions were extremely enslaving.I toiled hard for 6 months working 12 to 14 hours a day ,6 days a week but on my only day off on Sundays I was not 'allowed' to go out of the house. I was discouraged from talking to local people or meeting other childmindersdomestic workers.My employer kept my passport and lied about the work permit.In the end I worked for her illegally facing threats that if I left she would phone the immigration on me.She paid me 400 monthly and I had no idea about the minimum wage in Ireland and the law applies for all workers including domestic workers.So she was paying me a quarter of what the labour law required her to pay me. I was helped by the local police to leave her and she is now being investigated for trafficking for labour exploitation.I am not alone,I met a lot other SA girls from home who had worse cases than mine at the shelter we were placed after the rescue while the investigations continue.I hope people reading this will learn something.

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moffat, wrote

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04:12pm on 17 February 2012
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firstly, i think the parents were very careless to allow to go work or dance when u where supposed to be at school, i think all your story is bull sh*t, u seem to be clever, you should contacted the law in that country. i think the other youg stars have learnt a lesson from u. u have been fixed now go back to school and behave.

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Sue-Ellen, wrote

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12:48pm on 17 February 2012
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What is this world coming to?! This blatant HUMAN TRAFFICKING, KIDNAPPING & ABUSE! It's just DISGUSTING, and the mere fact that there are still such narrow-minded, small-world people who can't see the wrong here or make ridiculous comments like "hmmm, an ominous line indeed” when referring to the VICTIM’s deion of her traumatising ordeal, or ask “What type of dancing was she and the others doing?” or even “The story sounds incomplete, why bother talking about it”, is a clear indication of the critical condition. It’s pure and simple: this girl is a fellow HUMAN BEING, she was lied to and forced, and action must be taken. I just went on to RT Concert’s website and even called the numbers listed – I spoke to Susan, domestic worker of the managing director, Tanya Van Rie. Poor Susan has been handling a bombardment of calls today, and it’s clear by her panicked voice that I’m not the only one to voice my horror. More voices are needed, the greater the unrest, the greater the reaction.

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Scar, wrote

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10:47am on 17 February 2012
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This is an appalling case of trafficking and human rights abuse. The company should be investigated by the Scorpions and bombarded with calls and emails by the outraged public! Their website is easily accessed on google - and all and their telephone numbers and email addresses are available online. Disgusting people!!! I challenge the public to take action!

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The Graduate, wrote

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09:54am on 17 February 2012
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"because prostitution is illegal they would not give us money" hmmm, an ominous line indeed.

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:49am on 17 February 2012
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@Ali Babab - Where did you read that RT Concerts is a white company? How do you know that it isn't a black owned, or middle eastern owned, or asian owned company? Your preconceived ignorance and desire for racism is very apparent!

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:43am on 17 February 2012
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Thanks...At least news on others experiences abroad helps make youngersters here wiser on what they might encounter and how to go about handling jobs offered on the other side

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grep, wrote

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09:41am on 17 February 2012
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Suckerpunch (the movie) anyone? Anyway isn't this human trafficking? Which means they wouldn't have to pay back the company as everything is illegal.

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:38am on 17 February 2012
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Send the girls with HIV and the cons and clients will be eliminated

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Tsholo, wrote

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09:37am on 17 February 2012
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why does the government make it easy for people to come in our own country and do as they please? this people love their own and do not make them entertain their guests, but come all the way here to take our families and make them slaves...i mean really, this is not it

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:35am on 17 February 2012
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Its happening around the world! If international authorities are scared to action this human trafficking problem, why would we expect SA Government to tackle this issue? Global Mafias run within all countries with their networks...my presumption!! Peace :-))

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Ace Ntsipo, wrote

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09:26am on 17 February 2012
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THE AGENCY IS IN GERMISTON,HERE IN SA,some1 must be arrested.Close down the agency.

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:14am on 17 February 2012
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What type of dancing was she and the others doing?

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zz, wrote

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09:14am on 17 February 2012
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The story sounds incomplete, why bother talking about it.

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Jakes, wrote

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09:09am on 17 February 2012
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Get the Hawks toinvestigate RT Concerts. Bet you they have closed doors and went underground for a few months.

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shechinah, wrote

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09:02am on 17 February 2012
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SO WHAT DOES OUR GOVERNMENT INTEND TO TO ABOUT THIS?

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:00am on 17 February 2012
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Common SAPA - give us the news on whats happening to RT Concerts - and dig for more info on 'organisations' doing the same human violations....... Name and shame!!!!!

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The Lastword, wrote

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08:58am on 17 February 2012
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RT Concerts should explain themselves in a court of law.

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:53am on 17 February 2012
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There's more to this story. These girls are not honest. Speak to the other girls who are still there.

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