Scotland

Trafficking victim John: 'I was locked in room'

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Media captionA victim of trafficking, who came to Scotland from Uganda, has been speaking about his ordeal

"I was scared and I was frightened," said John, not his real name.

He is talking about being on the streets of a Scottish city, surround by white people for the first time in his life, asking passers-by for help.

A victim of human trafficking, he has been telling his story as the Scottish government announced plans for new legislation to tackle the problem.

John's story

John, came to Scotland from Uganda seeking safety and a better life. As a gay man he was persecuted in his home country.

"I was expelled from school at age 15 because of my gay tendencies," he said.

Later, he was sacked from jobs when his employers found out he had a partner and he received threatening phone calls. He moved back to his mother's home but his ordeal worsened.

"They actually burned my mother's house down with her in it and I barely escaped, only because she told me to run.

"I still see it in my brain every other day. Sometimes I wish I had just stayed and maybe died with her."

A "trusted" friend offered John hope and escape.

"He knew someone, who knew someone who could help me get out of the country."

John was told to hand over his passport and a pay a total of $3,000. He was led to believe those helping him were arranging the necessary paperwork and sorting out a job and accommodation for him.

He was eventually accompanied on a flight out of Uganda and arrived in Scotland where he was taken to a house.

"I was actually locked in a room," he said. "The only time I was allowed out was for about 30 minutes a day to prepare myself something to eat."

Image caption John has been speaking about his ordeal as the Scottish government announced plans for a new bill to tackle human trafficking

However, John remained confident that those involved in bringing him to Scotland would deliver on their promise of work and a more permanent place to live.

"At least I was somewhere I didn't feel threatened," he said.

"The thought never crossed my mind that they would play any dirty tricks on me."

A fortnight after he arrived in Scotland, John was taken for a drive by a white man.

"About an hour into the drive, this gentleman asks me if I can perform a sexual act on him," he said.

When John refused the driver became angry.

"He was like 'You mean I have paid £200 for you, and I'm not going to get any action?' Those were his words exactly."

John managed to escape from the car.

"I just ran. I didn't know what else to do. I didn't know where I was going. I just ran."

He spent that night on the streets, alone in a place he was only seeing properly for the first time and knew nothing about.

"This was my first interaction with white people," he said.

The next day a passer-by he stopped to ask for help told him about the Refugee Council.

Those who spoke to him there were able to put him in touch with the charity, Migrant Help, who assist victims of trafficking.

He was offered support and help with food and accommodation.

"I felt comfortable. I felt cared for," he said. "It was nice being somewhere where you are not afraid someone is after you."

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