London: A "a tiny, bird-like nun" from India in the UK has emerged as an integral part of police raids on brothels run by human traffickers here.
Sister Ancy Mathew is providing care for women freed from clutches of criminals in London, The Guardian reported on Sunday.
Sister Mathew is a member of the Congregation of Adoratrices, an order of nuns founded in Spain in 1856 by St Maria Micaela to minister among women working in prostitution.
Mathew, who is in her early 50s, was born in Kerala and worked for some years in Kolkata with street children born to sex workers.
In 2000, she was transferred to London, where she became aware of the growing problem of trafficked women and decided to dedicate her life to helping them.
She founded a charity called Rahab, named after a biblical prostitute, and accompanied officers from the human trafficking unit raiding flats where trafficked women might be held.
And now, she is an integral part of the police operation, the paper said.
What Mathew, her fellow sisters and lay volunteers were able to do, said Kevin Hyland, newly appointed as UK's anti- slavery commissioner, was put the "heart" into often extraordinarily difficult situations.
During a raid, the "tiny, bird-like nun" waits outside in a police car until the situation has been assessed by police officers, and then she goes into the house or flat to talk to the women found there, the report said.
Often the victims give Mathew valuable information that she is able to pass on to the police. She also organises accommodation at a chain of safe houses for women who have been freed from the slave-like conditions in which they are held.
Women who have been trafficked into Britain to become sex workers have invariably been lied to, and have often been encouraged by the criminals who control them to fear police.
On Saturday, the Home Office said there could be as many as 13,000 slavery victims in the UK.
"These victims need a lot of tender, loving care ? they have been treated appallingly badly, and they are in a state of shock," said Hyland.
The police cannot provide round-the-clock care, but the Rahab team do manage to do that ? and then the sisters are often able to use their church links to help resettle the women back in the countries they have been trafficked from, which is also fraught with difficulties and needs very careful handling," he added.