Trafficked woman brings court challenge over child benefit

A woman who was trafficked into Ireland and forced into sex work at the age of 14 has brought a High Court challenge to win backdated child benefit for her daughter.

She says that her daughter, who was born in Ireland and has since been recognised as a refugee, was a refugee from birth and the child benefit could have been claimed earlier if the woman felt able to engage with government agencies.

The challenge is being brought against the Chief Appeals Officer, the Minister for Social Protection, and the Government of Ireland.

The woman, who has not been named due to provisions in the Refugee Act, is appealing for almost two-and-a-half years of backpaid child benefit.

It had been refused on the basis that benefits can only be paid from the date that leave to remain in the country has been granted.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan heard that the woman did not claim the benefit immediately following her daughter’s birth as she was the subject of a deportation order and did not trust government authorities.

She eventually received help from Ruhama, a Dublin-based NGO that assists people who have been trafficked or forced into sex work, and began receiving payments from September 2012.

Mr Justice Noonan granted leave for judicial review and the case will return to the High Court in October.

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