on 22 July 2009
I read a lot of books but have not really delved into the 'tragic life stories' genre before, but Slave Girl caught my eye on the shelf and even though the subject matter is unpleasant I was really struck by the element of hope in the book. Sarah has been to hell and back but she survived to tell the tale. Other people in that situation would have accepted their fate and given up but she kept fighting and eventually escaped. I felt like I was with her every step of the way and respect and admire Sarah for her courage and resiliance.
I was shocked to discover that 70% of the prostitutes in Amsterdam's red light district are forced to work there by greedy gangsters. Sarah's voice needs to be heard so that tourists to that city know the misery that goes on behind those windows. The corrupt police should be named and shamed and a full investigation into the local government needs to be conducted so girls like Sarah shouldn't have to go through that ordeal ever again.
on 7 July 2009
I read this book in a matter of hours. It was so compelling.
Being the same age as Sarah and also living in the Newcastle area, this book really struck home.
My husband also read the book and we talked for hours afterwards about Sarah's ordeal.
If Sarah ever reads this comment... I wish you all the best in the future - you deserve it x x x
on 6 March 2012
Last year I wrote Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave to try and raise awareness about trafficking, so after my research for it I was expecting a lot of the horrific ordeal that Sarah describes in her book, but many others may not be. This book is a must-read and is very well-written. You will cry while reading Sarah's heart-breaking story, and you will feel disgusted, sick, and angry, but it's a story that needs to be read. No one should have to go through this. Slave Girl addresses a lot of common misconceptions surrounding prostitution - mainly that these women must've got into it by choice. Society doesn't pay attention to the reason prostitutes are doing what they're doing. They don't stop and think how they got into that situation - far better to ignore it than have to deal with the horrendous fact that trafficking is a huge global problem that makes a hell of a lot of money for those involved, from the bottom right up to the very top. That woman working on a street corner or in a sauna or massage parlour that you see every day could be trafficked. In the UK, it is not hidden from view, but blatantly in your face - street corners, massage parlours freely advertising in phone boxes, on the net, in newspapers, and yet very little is done to protect these women from trafficking. Another misconception is that victims can just escape - it's not as simple as that. As Sarah says " Not all prisons have bars and walls - some are in the mind." Victims hardly ever speak out because they're subjected to unimaginable abuse and violence, or their families are threatened. They cannot escape because they are brainwashed into believing their captors and they don't know who to trust. In Sarah's case, she was further bound to her captors after being fed drugs just to get through her living hell. An addiction she's still struggling to deal with.
Sarah's previous history with abuse may have made her more vulnerable, but it could easily happen to you, or your daughter, or your sister, or your wife. She put her trust in the wrong person. A mistake that was a tragedy for her and could've cost her life. It did cost others mentioned in the book their lives. It proves that a normal person who accidentally slips up could be in the same situation. In fact, it's going on under your nose right now. Together, we can all do something to raise awareness. This is not someone else's problem - it's everyone's problem.
I applaud Sarah for having the strength and courage to share her story, and break the common misconceptions that surround trafficking. She is one of the lucky ones who managed to escape, but she is far from healed. Everything that's happened to her is an ongoing struggle to deal with. I really hope that one day she will heal the invisible psychological wounds.
on 28 May 2013
First of all, this is a book that I had to read though once started. The story is incredible, yet totally believable. In a nutshell it's her story of her dysfunctional and abused childhood, then being kidnapped in Holland and forced to be a prostitute, her drugs habits to numb some of the pain and her subsequent life to date fighting the drug habit and demons she was left with.
You get the impression that the subject of the book, Sarah Forsythe is some mixed up woman, trying in the end to battle back to the straight and narrow but finding it anything but easy. With all that happened to her, It's easy to write her off as one of life's losers and in many ways she was, but her way of looking at it is that she is one of life's survivors. Now that IS putting positive spin on her experiences. However, she did escape from her captivity, did assist in the prosecution of those involved and indeed did see her father brought to book for what he did to her. She is living an independent life, has a partner and contributes positively to the community. So whilst labelling herself as a survivor may originally have been a way to look positively on nothing but bad things, she is now showing how true it is.
The book is well written and very readable. The subject matter is harrowing but you need to know how things pan out.
In the end, this isn't just a book about a lass from the north east who gets into trouble, neither is it a book for women of a certain persuasion. As a true life story it is a compelling read for anyone and whatever your own life experiences, I suggest you read it. Especially if you're about to take up a job as a nanny in Amsterdam.
on 5 May 2012
Sarah was abused by her own father from the age of three. After a rebellious and difficult childhood and further abuse while living in children's care homes, she tried to settle down to train to be a nurse, and set up home with a boyfriend. But her wild side led her to answer an advertisement in a local newspaper to go and work abroad as a nursery nurse.
Despite her mother's warnings and misgivings, Sarah flew into Amsterdam airport, where she was met by a woman, taken to a car, and then driven at gun point to start a life of enforced prostitution. It was as easy as that.
She describes her degradation, hopelessness, fear, humiliation and helplessness, standing in a window to entice clients, expected to service up to 20 men a day. Her only release is through drugs, supplied by her pimp and for which she has to earn the money. Worse comes when she is sold on to a ruthless and vicious gang. Desperate to escape, she is too afraid to try, because she knows what happens to girls who upset their "owners". She's seen one of them have her head blown off. She can't trust anybody; the man who claims to be a police officer who can help her may be a set-up to test her loyalty.
Sarah is "lucky", because she does manage to escape, but the scars and memories of her time in Amsterdam leave a lasting effect from which she will never really recover.
If it wasn't for the fact that her story had been thoroughly checked and televised by a reputable investigative journalist, I would have doubted some of it, because the details are almost unbelievable. But it's far from being unique. In Britain, up to 8,000 women mostly from poorer countries are being trafficked like slaves, sold to gangs and forced to work as prostitutes.
A true horror story, and a look into a sordid and vicious world, at times reading it made me feel rather voyeuristic.
on 20 February 2014
I read this in about 2 hours on a train journey on my kindle. It is a very compelling and gripping read and will stick in your head for a long time afterwards - hence me shooting this review off less than a day later!
Sarah's story is horrific, upsetting and shocking. This is not a light read, nor would I recommend it for readers under about 18 (seriously). Some of the descriptions of her abuse and ordeal with prostitution and drug abuse are quite graphic, and at times I found myself having to stop reading for a second. I am by no means saying this is a bad thing about the book, though. It is so important for stories like Sarah's to be told to debunk the myths about prostitution and the Red Light District, and this has really given me food for thought. How brave of her to relive her hell in order to get her story out there and hopefully warn other vulnerable young women (and men seeking a 'sex tour' of Amsterdam) about the dark side of life. This is the true-life 'Taken', but with no Hollywood ending and much grittier.
The reason I haven't given this 5 stars is because it would have been good to get some interviews with Amsterdam police or officials to hear 'their side' if you can call it that. But that obviously isn't Sarahs fault. My heart goes out to her and all other young women in similar positions, and thankyou for raising awareness of this horrific issue.
on 12 March 2015
Although if I am mistaken I hugely apologise to Sarah,I can't help but have the feeling that this story is not 100% true. Sarah mentions that she was locked in the red light district windows, yet was able to let punters in, she then gets in a romantic relationship with her kidnapper, I'm very sorry for what she went through weather forced or not, I hear she is now still addicted to drugs mainly morphine and I hope she has the strength to stop one day. Interesting book but not believable to me.
on 10 February 2014
From 3 years of age, abused by her own father, then put into care, abused again, did she really stand a chance. The fact that she was tricked into going for a nursery nurse's job in Amsterdam, & forced to become a prostitute, must have tipped her totally over the edge. My daughter is councillor/therapist & has told me just how low the self esteem becomes of people who have been abused like Sarah., they feel worthless & blame themselves. People criticised her for not running from the window, but with all the pimps/running boys & police in Gregor's pocket, all watching her, how could she, with no money, no passport, no clothes other than the bikini & she didn't speak the language. It was impossible, I think she is very brave just managing to survive. It was a very good book, I'm just sorry it had to be written, & she could have had a normal decent childhood. I just despair of cruel people saying it was like Jackannory, judging people who have been through appalling things, things most of us only have nightmares about, & making glib cheap remarks, have these people no common decency. Sarah take no notice of these negative remarks you are a survivor, try & go on to make your life as good as you can, I wish you lots & lots of luck in the future if anyone deserves it you do.
on 20 April 2012
No need to describe the story - plenty of reviewers have done that already.
I don't generally subscribe to 'sad true-life books for entertainment - but trafficking is a subject on which we have been trying to raise awareness locally, so I felt I should read this book. When I started it I almost changed my mind - it just felt very wrong to be passing the time reading about someone's misery but I'm glad I stuck with it.
We went to Amsterdam earlier this year and whilst there my gut feeling was 'this is wrong' each time we passed through or near the red-light district. But the guide on our City Tour (which walked through the district and stopped at the Respect Sex Workers Monument), 'explained' that 'no-one is forced to be there'. Now I've read this book I believe my gut instinct was right... How many teenage girls go to their careers officer and say they'd like to become a prostitute???
A real eye-opener - very hard to read but hard to put down. Excellent facts and info on trafficking especially in the last chapter, if you don't read the rest of the book read the last chapter on people trafficking.
This clip may interest you - filmed in Amsterdam to raise awareness of just this issue: [...]
on 13 September 2010
This book is the story of a young woman from Gateshead, who, following years of abuse as a child and adolescent attempts to make a new life for herself by taking a job abroad. Alas, the job is a ruse and she is kidnapped and forced into life as a prostitute in the Netherlands.
This story is truly shocking, as it details the failures of those who should have helped her as a child and the realities of life as a trafficked sex slave in one of Europes most popular cities.
It was a real eye opener for me that British women are trafficked into prostitution abroad - naively I had assumed prior to reading this that the trade wasn't operating both ways.
Throughout the book there are occasional footnotes that offer additional information such as facts and statistics such as currency exchanges, legal changes etc.
There is also, in the edition I read an introduction and afterword that shed more light on the events told in the body of the book itself.
This is not an easy read in that the material is shocking and disturbing, and with reading this comes the realistaion that there are so many other women trapped in this situation, and that the judicial system really is not dealing with or punishing these crimes adequately.
The complicity of authorities that should be there to protect is appalling.
The book is not a long one, yet I feel that it could have a profund impact on those that read it.
I sincerely hope that sarah manages to acheieve some happiness and stability in her life.