Man charged with forcing partner into prostitution

A woman who was forced into prostitution tells court how she was beaten up and blackmailed by her partner

The woman felt like a prisoner at home
The woman felt like a prisoner at home

A woman forced into having sex with other men by her drunken partner has told the court how she lived as a prisoner at home.

The woman testified yesterday in court proceedings against the 31-year-old Libyan man, who was charged with forcing her into prostitution and living off her earnings. The man was also charged with insulting, threatening and slightly injuring the woman.

Testifying via video conference, the woman recounted her harrowing experience of violence and blackmail at the hands of her partner.

She told Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit that she had befriended the accused online and eventually went to live with him in St Paul’s Bay with some other people.

The woman said she lived as a prisoner and over time the man became increasingly aggressive and violent.

On one occasion the man punched her in the chest, causing her to collapse. The police had been called in but the victim withdrew her report after the accused promised to change.

The man never changed and the violence got worse and more regular. The victim said that she lost her job because she could not go to work with her face badly bruised.

The court heard how this led to money problems and although her son would send money from abroad, the accused, an alcoholic, would spend it all.

The woman said the accused then started to use her mobile phone to chat with men and invite them to the apartment for sex against payment.

She had filed a domestic violence report with the police but had not mentioned the prostitution issue out of shame and fear.

After the accused was arraigned over the beating, the woman started being followed by men who would threaten her with death if she did not withdraw her complaint. The woman eventually withdrew the complaint.

However, things came to a head last week in Birżebbuġa when the accused, after a two-day drinking spree, insisted that she contact a certain man to give her some money.

When she did so, the person said he was at work, but the accused went after the man with a knife and attacked him.

Neighbours saw the ensuing commotion and to exculpate himself, the accused forced the woman to say the man had raped her.

She later confessed to this during questioning by the police and the Libyan man was subsequently investigated.

The woman told the police that she had never reported the accused because she was terrified of him. He had also threatened to release video recordings of her performing sex acts if she disobeyed him.

The man was arraigned under arrest by Inspectors Roxanne Tabone, Roderick Attard and Joseph Busuttil.

The defence did not request bail. The case continues.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela are appearing for the victim while lawyer Martin Fenech was legal aid to the accused.

The names are being withheld to protect the identity of the victim.

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