Girl ‘forced to work’ as janitor in French school

Girl 'forced to work' as janitor in French school
File photo: Dave Crosby
A young teenager from the Ivory Coast who moved to France to live a better life with her aunt was purportedly made to work as a janitor in a Parisian school where she was allegedly sexually abused.

French daily Le Parisien reported on Thursday that the girl – given the alias Bintou – was made to work at the school by her aunt, aged 40, who was also a cleaner.

Under a false identity, the girl worked as a janitor at the Jules-Richard secondary school in Paris’ 19th Arrondissement between 2008 and 2009, where she alleges a co-worker sexually abused her.     

On Friday the director of the school told the Parisien that the girl in question had been hired through a cleaning agency, and was not directly employed by Jules-Richard. 

Bintou left the Ivory Coast in 2008 to live with her aunt in Bondy in the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis. The teenager was supposed to attend the school as a student, but instead was made to work there.

“She worked there for a year, without earning any money of her own because her aunt took the money. Part of her income was sent back to her [home] country,” a source close to the case told the Parisien.  

The girl eventually escaped and the children's charity Voix de l’enfant (The child’s voice) alerted the authorities. The girl denounced her aunt and claimed that she had been sexually abused by a co-worker at the school.

“A second inquiry was then launched into human trafficking,” another source told the paper. Following the inquiry, the aunt was remanded in custody at the end of February. She defended herself, claiming that she had always acted in the interests of her niece.    

“She even argued that she had lost money by getting her to come to France and taking her in,” the source added.

The teenager, now 19 years of age, has since resumed her education in France and has been taken in by a shelter.  “Today this girl is making a fresh start. She is a dedicated student, so everything is going well” a spokesperson from Voix d’enfant told the Parisien.

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