Shameem was 10-years-old and deaf when she was trafficked to the UK. Ilyas and Tallat Ashar brought her from Pakistan and kept her at their home in Salford where she was forced to sleep in the cellar, despite their being spare bedrooms at the property.
Shameem was repeatedly raped by Ilyas Ashar, 84, and his wife, Tallat Ashar, 68, forced her to cook and clean at a number of properties they owned. Thousands of pounds in benefits were also claimed in Shameem’s name which she did not receive, and a number of bank accounts were set up using her details.
Shameem’s ordeal lasted nearly a decade. She was only found after Trading Standards officials visited the Ashar’s home to investigate allegations of money laundering.
When Shameem was discovered she was in a cot bed in the cellar of the house, a space described as cold and dark with a small amount of furniture. When officers tried to speak to her at the house they realised she was incapable of communication and moved her to a place of safety.
Details of Shameem’s ordeal only emerged after she was taught sign language. After just three months of teaching, Shameem’s skills had improved sufficiently for her to be interviewed by police. Officers spoke with her seven times, during carefully planned sessions involving a sign language interpreter.
After a trial in October 2013, Ilyas Ashar was found guilty of 13
counts of raping Shameem. He and Tallat Ashar were both
convicted of trafficking and benefit fraud. They were originally sentenced to 13 years and five years respectively, however, in
February 2014, the Court of Appeal extended their jail terms to 15 years and six years respectively after the sentences were described as ‘unduly lenient’.
The couples’ daughter, Faaiza Ashar, 47, was given a 12-month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work after she was also found guilty of benefit fraud.
In October 2014 Manchester Crown Court ruled that the Ashars must pay Shameem £100,000 in compensation. They must also repay £42,000 of benefits falsely claimed in her name and pay £321,000 towards the cost of their trials.