Trafficked for sexual exploitation as a child, Gladys fled to Ireland where she was able to build a new life looking forward and away from the darkness of her past.
We want to tell you about Gladys* – a young woman who has weathered darker storms than nearly anyone we’ve met, and yet had the courage, strength and determination to make it through to sunnier skies.
As a child, Gladys was trafficked for sexual exploitation in Italy. She managed to flee to Ireland from there to seek protection. To make matters worse, they incorrectly assessed she was an adult so she was forced to live in a mixed direct provision centre – and this while pregnant. It took nearly a year for this mistake to be rectified.
Gladys applied for international protection, but the Irish system does not allow a person to both apply for asylum and at the same time, access the supports that she is entitled to as a survivor of trafficking, like a temporary residence permission. We supported Gladys to challenge that problem, and other associated issues, in the High Court.
At last, Gladys was ultimately granted refugee status and was able to start rebuilding a life for herself and her child, here in Ireland. Despite everything she has been through, she worked hard to gain qualifications and works full-time supporting her child.
And in great news, in March this year Gladys was granted citizenship – a remarkable woman who we’re delighted is now officially one of our own.
But it shouldn’t have been this hard for someone who had already endured so much. We will continue to call for better supports for survivors of trafficking.
But in the meantime, Gladys is planning a post Covid-19 holiday for her and her child – she’s just waiting for her new passport to arrive. All the best to them both!
*We have changed her name to protect her identity