Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

A lawyer who travelled to Pakistan to meet a man she had met on Facebook, only to be imprisoned, beaten and raped has shared her horrific ordeal.

Lara Hall, 30, flew to the Middle East after her relationship with “the man of her dreams” became more serious when he offered her a life of luxury in his lavish villa. Seduced by his promise of a life of luxury in a stunning Spanish-style villa in Lahore, she journeyed to Pakistan to meet Sajjad. Shortly after she arrived, it all fell apart.

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Lara went to meet Sajjad after years of chatting on Facebook.

Her hellish ordeal began when she befriended a woman, Rhianna, originally from Pakistan, on a train in 2013.

The pair became firm friends, resulting in Lara teaching her English and becoming welcomed into Rhianna’s family.

Lara, who battled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and had little family, soaked up her new-found adoration from Rhianna’s parents.

One evening during a Skype call to Rhianna’s family, she was introduced to Sajjad — a relative and according to him, a fellow lawyer.

They followed each other on Facebook and struck up a friendship that went on for a few years.

For Lara, whose childhood troubles and mental health battles resulted in a breakdown, Sajjad’s affection and caring messages helped her through.


Sajjad told her that he could offer her a “grand amazing happy life” if she was to consider him.

Wanting shelter from her turbulent life in Sydney, Australia, Lara admitted she was “seduced” by his promises.

She told Daily Mail Australia: “He said he had five houses, he showed a purchase contract for a Spanish house he said we could live in and that I could decorate however I wanted — he even sent me pictures of the house.

“I was seduced by the promise of this amazing life with him. He would always say ‘I’ll fill all your blank spaces’.

And I’d known his family here for a long time.”

To ensure that Lara was convinced that he was legitimate, Sajjad got in contact with Lara’s twin sister, Amy, who was thrilled that Lara had found someone so loving.

After years of chatting online, Sajjad asked Lara to join him at his brother’s wedding in Pakistan.

So on April 23 last year Lara flew to meet him, but was not met with the grand home she was expecting — there were twenty people crammed into five bedrooms.

The filthy house was strewn with litter and looked nothing like the pictures of the Spanish inspired villa she was shown on Facebook.

The 30-year-old was raped repeatedly by Sajjad, was beaten, starved for days and humiliated. (Removed text) and he smashed her head against a bathroom sink because she missed a bit of shampoo.

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Instead of meeting her online lover, Lara was met by Sajjad’s attempts to force her into a life of Islam, marriage and sex slavery.


Sajjad tried to force her to marry him and convert her to Islam — but she refused his demands.

In a desperate bid for freedom she managed to contact the Australian consulate and High Commission but claims that she was let down by their response.

She was told that she should seek safety and call the police, but she told the Daily Mail Australia that she was too scared to go to the authorities because she had overstayed her 30-day visa.

So instead, she messaged Dr Kaiser Rafiq, chief executive of the AFOHS club — a members-only club for armed forces officers and diplomats on Facebook.

Finally, she had the courage to call the police after she barricaded herself in a bedroom. Luckily for the traumatised woman, they escorted her to a local station and she was put into Dr Rafiq’s care.

After staying with him for two weeks, she moved to stay with another friend she had also met online — Rafi. She flew with her friend to Islamabad to the Ministry of Interior.

Despite her tragic ordeal, she was threatened with prison for overstaying her visa, but luckily escaped with a fine and was told to leave the country.

She tried again to get help from the Australia embassy as she had no money to get back home, but was met with more red tape.

She resorted to setting up a GoFundMe page and reached out to the British Pakistani Christian Association. They paid her fines and helped her get back to Australia.

Wilson Chowdry, head of the organisation, blasted the Australian Consulate and High Commission, saying that they did not take Lara seriously in light of the dangerous circumstances.

Lara is now petitioning for fellow grooming victims who had also been let down by the Australian government.

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