Sex trafficking survivor and Scots daughter, 5, living in fear of being deported to Rwanda

Claudia is worried she and her daughter will be sent to Rwanda
Claudia is worried she and her daughter will be sent to Rwanda -Credit:Tony Nicoletti / Daily Record

A sex trafficking survivor and her daughter are living in fear of being deported to Rwanda from their home in Scotland.

The woman from Africa has raised her five-year-old girl in Glasgow after escaping sex trafficking and domestic slavery in the UK. Her daughter was born in Britain but is not recognised as a UK citizen because her mother is not a national.

The woman has been refused asylum, despite evidence police have issued wanted notices for her in her native Cameroon after her father was arrested as a government opponent.

Last night, she said: “My daughter is Scottish. Scotland is the only home she has ever known. Her school is here, her friends are here. She speaks with a Scottish accent. It is terrifying to me that we could be sent to Rwanda or Cameroon, where we would be in serious danger.”

The woman, who we are calling Claudia, has being identified ­“conclusively” as a trafficking victim under the UK Government’s own system, the National Referral ­Mechanism. Last week, MPs voted against amendments from the House of Lords to exempt victims of modern slavery from its widely condemned Rwanda scheme.

And last night, Claudia’s MP Anne McLaughlin blasted the British Government’s “cruel” treatment.

She said: “Her life reads like a horror story. This woman has suffered unimaginable cruelty at the hands of individuals but alarmingly at the hands of governments too, including the British Government.”

The SNP MP for Glasgow North added: “The Home Office agrees she was trafficked here, it knows the barbarity she faced for years but it doesn’t think she is worthy of our help. How can it be so brutal? And how can it justify sending a wee five-year-old Scottish girl to a similar fate as her mum?”

Claudia has a productive life in Scotland and she was given a permit to work, so took a job as a carer and wants to train as a nurse. She once had a comfortable life as a languages graduate with a small successful business in her home town in west Cameroon in Central Africa.

But she was forced to flee to Nigeria in December 2016 when her father was arrested for involvement in a pro-independence movement banned by the government. Smugglers dumped her alone and terrified on a Nigerian street and she was picked up by a woman who offered her shelter but it emerged was a brothel keeper.

Knowing Claudia had no money and couldn’t go home, the madam blackmailed her into prostitution in exchange for basic food and shelter. Claudia wept as she recalled how the horror of being sold to strangers marked the beginning of years locked in abuse and exploitation.

She said: “Sometimes it was five or six men a night. I was raped many times, every single night. It was so terrible.”

When she couldn’t take any more, she escaped but, homeless and hungry, she had no choice but to sell herself again. When one client promised her he could get her a good job and new life in Europe, she grabbed the chance.

Deportation fight mum and her little girl
SNP MP Anne McGlaughlin

She said: “I believed him. I was so excited to have the chance of a normal life and safety because going back to Cameroon was not an option for me.”

But the man was a trafficker and when they arrived in Europe, he locked her in a flat in Belgium and prostituted her. When she begged to be freed, the man told her she had no documents, owed him a debt and she should treat him “like a God” because he had saved her.

Claudia said: “I would just sit and cry. I knew it was not what he told me it would be but there was nothing I could do. I was so scared.”

After two weeks, Claudia was taken through France and to what she later discovered was Southampton in the UK, where the trafficker had a home. He took her to his house and told her she was a servant to his wife and twin toddlers until she paid off the “debt” owed for taking her to the UK.

Claudia was forced to sleep on the floor of the children’s bedroom and worked day and night, cooking and cleaning and pandering to the family’s every whim.

She said: “His wife beat and slapped me with her hands, her shoes, anything. She told me I was a slave, that I was useless and I didn’t need to rest because I owed her husband so much. If there was so much as a glass in the wrong place, she hit me.”

Claudia got up at 5am, washed the floors, bathed and dressed the kids, cooked the breakfasts, did the laundry, cooking and housework late into the night. She couldn’t eat until given permission and her “mistress” would place a tiny portion of food on a plate on the kitchen floor for her.

Claudia was locked in each day with the children. After a few months, Claudia was so broken and depressed, her trafficker offered to take her to a for lunch to appease her. When he went to pay the bill, she took her chance, ran outside and frantically waved down a car and begged the driver to take her anywhere.

Claudia said: “He offered to take me to the police but I was scared of the police. He was kind and he dropped me but I was on the street again, with nowhere to go.”

Again, she sobs as she ­remembers the indignity of sleeping in a supermarket doorway begging for cash. She was grateful when someone told her about a Cameroonian church group and after a while she formed a relationship with a man there.

He was kind at first but after two years she got pregnant and he rejected her when she had her baby. She slept on the streets with her child for three days until a refugee organisation organised for her to go to the Home Office and claim asylum.

In 2019, she was sent to Glasgow but after years in the gruelling asylum process her application has been rejected. Her only consolation is the support she gets from charity Survivors of Human Trafficking ­Scotland which has supported her to access legal and emotional help.

She said: “If it wasn’t for SOHTIS, I don’t know what I would do. I am speaking out because I want people to know how cruel this all is. I suffer from depression and I am traumatised from what has happened to me. I am now terrified of being sent back to Cameroon or Rwanda. I just want to raise my child in her home of Scotland.”

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