Call Us 0161 832 4036     |     Public Access Enquiry

Sexual Exploitation Victim Prevented from Being Re-Trafficked by Gita Patel

Kenworthy's Chambers | July 18, 2023

This case study details how Immigration Barrister Gita Patel prevented a victim of sexual exploitation from being re-trafficked by winning her asylum appeal.

Client Story

She was born in the capital city of Windhoek, Namibia, where she lived with her grandmother, mother, aunt, sisters, and cousins. At the age of 20, she was forced into prostitution by her mother and grandmother, and this lasted for two years.

She reported her forced prostitution to the police on three separate occasions, however, they failed to act.

Her mother worked as an Office Administrator at the police station and could have prevented an investigation from being carried out.

If anybody reported a matter to the police, they received a docket. A docket is a list of legal cases to be heard. Her mother was the first person through whom the docket would be sent, so effectively she ‘has the power’ to decide whether to keep the docket or pass it on to the Police Sergeant and allow an investigation to take place.

The victim also reported her situation to the head of the village, referred to as ‘like a mayor’, by writing him a letter but she received no response.

After suffering sexual exploitation for two years, she was able to save the sum of €300 from her prostitution and buy a flight to the UK, where she claimed asylum on her arrival. She feared that if she returned to Namibia, she would be re-trafficked into sexual exploitation by her mother.


The core of the appellant’s account was accepted by the Home Office but her claim for international protection was refused because it was the Home Office’s position that there was sufficient protection in Namibia and the authorities there would be willing and able to provide her with protection.

Furthermore, the Gita Patel’s client feared returning to Windhoek, but the Home Office held the position that it would not be unduly harsh or unreasonable for her to relocate to another town or city like Walvis Bay or Swakopmund. They argued that as she had previously worked as a waitress, she could use that experience in securing employment there.

Background evidence contained in the Home Office’s own Country Policy Information Note (CPIN) entitled “Namibia: Women fearing gender-based violence” from September 2021, shows that gender-based violence in Namibia has been on the increase since 1997 and remains a serious concern.

Namibia’s Information Minister stated that: “When it comes to the prosecution of offenders, ending impunity means that laws must be enforced. Women must have access to the police to file a criminal report and receive legal advice and protection orders. The response to violence must be immediate, coordinated and effective so that crimes are punished, and justice is secured.” (Paragraph 6.1.5 of Home Office CPIN)

How Kenworthy’s Chambers Helped

Gita Patel had to persuade the judge that there was insufficient protection for her client from the Namibian authorities and that relocation to another area of Namibia was unduly harsh for her.

Since her client had been accepted by the Home Office to be a modern slavery victim who had been sexually exploited, Gita Patel asked that she be treated as a vulnerable witness and the Judge agreed to that.

 Immigration Barrister Gita Patel made submissions on behalf of her client, drawing the Judge’s attention to an expert report from the Senior Lecturer at the University of St Andrews, Dr Mattia Fumanti.

In the expert report, Dr Fumanti stated that there was a rise in cases of corruption and mismanagement in the police force. They explained that “the police are reticent to act on reported cases of gender-based violence” and that, whilst willing to respond to emergency calls, they tend to act as an intermediary between family members and advise how a solution can be found intra-family, before proceeding to open an investigation.

Though shelters exist, there were problems with their operation and a place can only be secured if there is an active report to the police.

Dr Fumanti referred to the fact that kinship, ethnic and clan affiliations reach out beyond the place of residence and birth. He considers it plausible that members of her extended family, would be able to trace her in the place of relocation.

She would have difficulty remaining anonymous in a new town, particularly as a returnee without family support, which would arouse the community’s suspicions. She would be questioned about her place of birth, her ethnicity, and her clan affiliations.

It is plausible that the Gita Patel’s client would not be able to live under anonymity or under a false identity. It is “very likely” that she would enter into contact with members of her clan, and this would put her at risk of being found by her mother and re-trafficked.

Gita Patel argued that whilst in theory laws existed to prosecute offenders, in practice those laws were not enforced, and the Namibian government recognised that.

The Results

After hearing Gita Patel’s submissions, the Judge was satisfied that whilst the Namibian authorities are focused on improving protection for victims of gender-based violence, it remains a significant concern within the country. Furthermore, there has been a tacit acceptance by a representative of the authorities that impunity for offenders has existed.

The Judge also noted that the Home Office accepted the core account and that the victim had tried to report matters to the police, but it went nowhere, and that she was not protected by them. They also found there was an added barrier to the pursuing protection in that her mother works for the Ministry of Safety and Security.

He concluded if Gita Patel’s client were to return to her home area, as a vulnerable person who has previously been sexually exploited by her family, there is a real risk that she will be exploited similarly.

The Judge was satisfied that the appellant was reasonably likely to encounter the same types of problems in accessing protection as she faced before leaving the country and that the justice system has not improved sufficiently since that time to increase their chances of accessing protection.

Though shelters exist, Dr Fumanti identified problems with their operation and there is the obvious difficulty that a place can only be secured if there is an active report to the police.

The Judge was not satisfied that the Namibian authorities are willing and/or able to provide a Horvath-level of protection to the appellant as a victim of gender-based violence, given the background information and the circumstances that led to her flight from Namibia if she were to return to Windhoek.

Relocation to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund would continue to expose her to an unacceptable risk of being re-trafficked and it would be unreasonable to expect her to internally relocate to either of these small towns 350km away from Windhoek.

The comparatively small size of the towns impacts how easily Gita Patel’s client would be able to assimilate there with any degree of anonymity. That is important given what Dr Fumanti says about the extent of clan affiliations and the likelihood of relocation, on her own, arousing suspicions and the likelihood of that information working its way through the clan networks back to Windhoek and her family.

The appeal was allowed on asylum and human rights grounds and the Gita Patel’s client was granted anonymity so that any reports of this case cannot identify the victim to their family back in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Legal 500 describes Gita Patel as a “specialist in immigration and human rights cases”.

To check the availability of Immigration Barrister Gita Patel for your asylum case call our Immigration Clerks Courtney Richards and Daniella Howarth on 0161 832 4036, Email: [email protected], [email protected] or fill out our contact form.