FRIGHTENING allegations have emerged about how a teenage girl from Guinea was lured to Australia under the guise of work, before being held captive and raped by a string of men in Sydney.
This comes as reports of human trafficking have escalated in the past year, with concerns heightened about how these hideous crimes can occur.
The 17-year-old Guinea national turned up at the Asylum Seeker Centre in Newtown on April 27, telling staff she had escaped from a unit — believed to be in the Newtown area — where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by multiple men for several weeks.
The girl also told staff she was driven to the Centre by a woman- believed to be called ‘Nicole’- who picked her up after she escaped from the house. The exact location of the unit remains unknown.
Police are looking to identify this “good samaritan” woman who assisted the teen.
Investigators have been told the girl met a man in her home country, Guinea, in January, who offered to bring her to Australia to work as his cleaner. He is also believed to be a Guinean national.
In early April, the girl travelled with him from Guinea to Sydney, flying via Paris, which took a number of days.
After arriving in Sydney, the man drove her to a unit where she was kept in a room against her will and sexually assaulted by a number of men.
State Crime Command’s sex crimes squad commander Mick Haddow said vital questions still have not been answered, such as why ‘Nicole’ took the teenage girl to the Asylum Centre instead of straight to the police.
“The girl has told us she escaped from a unit and was picked up by a lady known as Nicole, and taken in what she describes as a small red hatchback to the Asylum Seeker Centre in Newtown,” Mr Haddow said.
“This is a case where there are a lot of questions and not enough answers. We are seeking help from this person Nicole.
“The girl has escaped from the unit and flagged down a vehicle, waved to get attention. Nicole is a really important witness and valuable source of information for us in terms of identifying the crime scene.
“Those attempts have been made (to locate the unit) but it’s very difficult for a 17-year-old girl from West Africa to try and describe streets in and around suburbs such as Newtown.”
The girl was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for treatment and then placed into the care of Family and Community Services.
The AFP’s Human Trafficking Unit is continuing their inquiries to determine when the girl arrived in Australia, and identify the man she travelled with.
However, Mr Haddow said due to language and cultural barriers, the teenager’s statement has taken six days to complete.
Australian Federal Police NSW state manager Chris Sheehan said this is another disturbing case, and they are doing all they can to find out who the woman is and how she got into the country.
“Questions involving how she got here, the passport she travelled under and who she was travelling with are critical lines of inquiry. We haven’t been able to confirm those details,” Mr Sheehan said.
Mr Sheehan also said this case only heightens his concerns about human trafficking, with the number of cases reported to the AFP climbing.
“Reports of human trafficking to the AFP are increasing. Last financial year we had 119, this financial year we had 169,” he said.
Investigators are also keen to speak with anyone who may have seen or heard the girl after she escaped from the home.
Anyone who has information that may assist with any aspect of these investigations is urged to contact Crime Stoppers or 131 AFP (131 237).