Case study 3 - Frank (Hungary, 2010)

Photograph of Frank, from case study 3

Frank, who was sold into slavery by his son-in-law. Courtesy of Balazs Szekelyhidi

 

Forced labour

Isolated, poor or homeless elderly people can become victims of local "mafia" gangs, especially those that target vulnerable people for enslavement and exploitation.

Frank (Hungary 2010)

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A 69-year-old Hungarian man known as "Uncle Frank" was sold by his son-in-law for 40,000 Forints (approximately £125) to a family who held him for three years on a farm.

Frank's story

I had to feed nine horses and do farm work. My home was the barn. I was given leftovers to eat once or twice a day. Sometimes I was unable to eat anything because the family's children would mix sand into my food. If I went into the city I was accompanied by two of my captors to stop me from escaping. I was assaulted several times. The farm owners stole my pension and my car.

I was finally able to escape when a police identity check on the car revealed that it belonged to me. The police found me living in the barn and informed the local mayor's office about their suspicions. Social workers decided to investigate the situation and during their visit, when my owners were not listening, I asked for help. I was given shelter by Hungarian Interchurch Aid who are now helping me to learn how to live in normal society again.

I'm still afraid of the farm owners, and I haven't decided yet whether to take legal action against them, so they might get away with it.

Questions and discussion points

  • What words would you use to describe the way Frank was treated?
  • What made it difficult for him to challenge his situation?
  • How do you think he felt about his captors?
  • Why is he still afraid of the farm owners now that he is free?

 

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