I thought she had fallen in love for the first time - but he was a pimp and it ended her life; A story that every parent must read; She said she was miserable and wouldn't be alive for much longer.
Why should a girl of 14, 15 or 16, with every prospect of getting a decent job and a good husband, sell her body to strangers, only to hand the cash to a sordid manipulator?
What hold do pimps have over young girls? How do they lure them into their squalid webs? How can parents spot the danger signs? And why, according to latest figures, were more than 9,000 women, but only 147 men, prosecuted for offences linked with prostitution?
Today, Mirror Woman launches a campaign to fund research into these worrying questions. It is spearheaded by Irene Ivison (pictured), whose beloved daughter Fiona, 17, was battered to death by a punter.
The man stood on the doorstep in a gold lame dressing gown.
Lurking, dirty and dishevelled, in the gloom behind him was Irene Ivison's curly-haired 14-year-old daughter.
Irene took in the situation at a glance. Fiona, an innocent child with braces on her teeth just a couple of days before, had been given drugs and had had sex.
With a smile and a swagger, the man claimed he had found her wandering the streets and had taken her in to keep her safe. Irene thumped him.
It was a horrible and distressing scene, the kind any responsible parent of a young teenage girl dreads. What happened afterwards became a desperate struggle, fought between a loving mother and a seedy world of drugs and crime, for the life of a bright, caring, confused child.
It ended three years later, on the unforgiving floor of a multi-storey car park in Doncaster, South Yorks, when a frustrated punter smashed Fiona's head against the cold concrete.
When police came to break the news to Irene, they told her Fiona had been working as a prostitute for two weeks. That she had been dropped off in Doncaster by her pimp, Zak - the man Irene had thumped.
Zak was later pulled in and questioned for 36 hours, but was never charged.
As far as Irene is concerned, he is as much a murderer as the man now serving a life sentence for the killing.
"He took her there like a lamb to the slaughter," she says bitterly. "It might not have been his hands on her neck, but he put her in that situation."
When she first met Zak, Fiona was experiencing a classic teenage conflict.
IT WAS a clash between the rather quiet, studious, idealistic personality of a girl who was a passionate vegetarian and used to give her change to down-and- outs, and a desire to be one of the "in" crowd.
She lived in a comfortable home in Sheffield with Irene, a physiotherapist, and her younger brother and sister. Though her parents were divorced, she saw her father regularly.
Irene always told her to bring any boyfriends home, but she felt uneasy when Fiona turned up one night with Zak. Not because he was Rastafarian - Irene actively supported anti-racism - but because he was 26 and was driving a flashy sports car.
She says: "He asked to take her for a drive and said they would be back at 9pm, and they were. Then he asked if he could take her to a gig until 2am and I said No, she was only 14.
"I was upstairs when I heard the door go. He must have been waiting for her at the end of the road. By the time I got down the drive, they had gone.
"I was totally unprepared for her behaviour. Fiona never went out on her own. She didn't even like staying overnight with girlfriends. I was worried and angry."
Irene called the police, but they did very little at this early stage, though they told her Zak had a criminal record.
Fiona didn't come home that night, or the following night. By the third morning Irene was frantic and tracked Zak down through a music studio. She called her ex-husband, and the couple knocked on the door together.
"Fiona was behind him, dirty and smelly. Her speech was slurred and she just stared at me robotically. She was not the girl who had left my house three days before.
"After I had slapped him, she came away with us. She was very subdued, ashamed and sorry. But when we took her to the police station, she refused to be examined. She said that was her right under the Children Act, and anyway nothing had happened.
"It shouldn't have been left to her at 14 to make that decision. She was under-age and at extreme risk from an older man. The police warned her that men like him were pimps and he would have her walking the streets, but she just said they must be racist.
"I thought maybe she was right, because, if he was a pimp, why didn't they do something about it? She would be alive today if they had.
"She promised me she would never sell her body. She didn't agree with it."
Though she had never caused trouble before and was genuinely sorry for upsetting her parents, this incident set Fiona off on a full-scale teenage rebellion.
She refused to go to school, complaining of a stomach ache, or playing truant. She became a target for name-calling and was laughed at.
Before, she had had a few quiet girlfriends, but now she was drawn to the Rastafarian music scene in Sheffield city centre.
HER mother tried to sort out the bullying, tried moving her to another school, tried a home tutor.
She banned Zak from the house, but she knew Fiona was meeting him and couldn't physically stop her.
"I knew there was something wrong. I knew she was desperately unhappy. She told me she was miserable and wouldn't be alive for much longer. I thought she was being dramatic.
"I sensed she was taking something - something stronger than dope. Later she told me she had tried everything from crack to morphine.
"She was high and manic all the time. He would beep on the car horn at the end of the road and she would go running to him."
The relationship with Zak finished, but Fiona fell in love with a man aged 32, from the same scene. From being a straight-A student, she dropped out of school. Irene pleaded for help from police and social services, to no avail. Eventually the relationship ended and Fiona seemed to get herself together. She enrolled at college in September 1993 to take her GCSEs.
Three months later, she was dead. Irene learnt afterwards that she had met Zak again soon after she started college.
"She started mixing with his friends, going to the red-light area and meeting the sort of people she never would have come across normally, growing up in our family.
"When the police told me she had been working as a prostitute, I was shocked, but it all fell into place. For the last few weeks she had been behaving oddly. She told her sister that she had to get money for Zak or he would batter her," says Irene, who has written a book about her experiences, Fiona's Story, to be published by Virago next May.
THE headlines were awful, the trial of Fiona's killer Alan Duffy, 26, an appalling ordeal. But Irene refused to feel guilty and channelled her rending grief into anger.
She says: "When Fiona was 14, I begged Social Services to do something about this much older man who was having an unlawful relationship with my daughter. "But Fiona was not seen to be a child at risk. She came from a good home, had professional parents and was obviously well cared-for.
"I would say now to any parent whose teenage daughter falls prey to a pimp: 'The odds are stacked against you'.
"The shame of it plays into the hands of pimps who know that any mother who discovers that her daughter is a prostitute will not want to shout it from the rooftops.
"Little can be done to protect a girl without her co-operation. The pimp knows this and tells her she is beautiful and gives her drugs.
"Later, of course, he turns nasty and she has to earn money for him or face violence. She is trapped.
"I'm certain Fiona was trapped and did not have the strength to get out. He just had this terrible hold on her.
"At first I thought she might be an isolated case. Then I found that two other young women had been murdered in Sheffield about the same time. Bothhad been lured into prostitution by violent pimps.
"Three young girls, including my daughter - all murdered. And in all three cases the pimps had not faced any charges.
"We have to stop judging these women and think more about how they became prostitutes in the first place.""
Research: Cheryl Albery
HELP US BEAT VICE MENACE AND
HALT SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENTS
When Fiona Ivison was found murdered the police quizzed the pimp who had taken her to the site of her death.
But he was not charged with any crime - and Fiona's mum Irene wants to change that.
And all parents will agree with her.
For the next victim could be your daughter or granddaughter or sister.
It is not just girls with no certain future or job prospects who fall into prostitution. Nor is it only young women who need money to feed a drug habit.
Girls from good homes are inexplicably being lured into a life of vice.
Last month Lucy Burchell was found strangled by a Birmingham nightclub. She was 16 and had just passed eight GCSEs. Her parents said she had everything to live for.
Samo Paull, 20, was the mother of a baby daughter. She was found throttled on the roadside at Swinford, Leics, miles from her Birmingham home in December 1993.
Sixteen-year-old Natalie Pearman was found strangled at a Norwich picnic site in November 1992. She came from a happy family background, and her mother was so devastated she had to be counselled after the murder.
Dawn Shields was a mum of 19 and found in a shallow grave in the Peak District in May two years ago.
Tracey Turner, 30, was reported missing by a neighbour. She was found on roadside at Bitteswell, Leics, in March 1994, strangled.
These are just some of the ordinary girls who have fallen victim to prostitution and been murdered. Irene Ivison and Mirror Woman want to find out why.
No research has ever been carried out into what lures girls like these into vice, but with your help we can raise funds for a research project.
The main aim of our campaign is to find out how to stop the exploitation of young women by pimps.
Irene says: "I am channelling my grief at Fiona's death and anger at Fiona's pimp into this campaign.
"I want to find ways to protect vulnerable girls - and boys - from pimps who seduce or batter them into a life on the streets.
"We have to work hard to stop young lives being destroyed. The Child Abduction Act 1984 and The Sexual Offences Act 1956 are meant to protect children from exploitation.
"But little can be done without cooperation from the young woman or child involved and often they are too scared to give evidence. The pimp knows this."
"We throw up our hands in horror at child prostitution in Thailand, but we have it here on our own streets.
"If we want to rid the streets of young girl prostitutes, we have to rid the streets of pimps."
The campaign is also supported by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Diana Lamplugh, whose daughter Suzy vanished more than 10 years ago, says: "The girls being exploited are getting younger and younger."
Irene is spearheading a move to get research undertaken by experts at Sheffield's Hallam University.
One of their main aims will be to find out whether a particular type of girl is more vulnerable to being lured into prostitution. They also want to examine how pimps seduce and control their victims.
Legislation exists which is intended to stop pimp activity. But the researchers will look at whether it is being implemented properly, and if not does it need changing?
They also plan to investigate how many children have contacted outreach agencies (safe houses for prostitutes), and find out why they are legally unable to prevent the exploitation of young women and children.
Finally, they want to find out whether The Children Act of 1989 is being used effectively to stop abuse outside the home and to look at how many young girls enter prostitution while in the care of a children's home.
And you can help. Donations for research should be made payable to Keep Our Girls Off The Streets, c/o The Suzy Lamplugh Trust/Daily Mirror Campaign, 14 East Sheen Avenue, London SW14 8AS (Tel: 0181 392 1839).
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 18, 1996|
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