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Sara A.

2016 (Narrative date)

Like hundreds of others, Sara came to the UK to work for a wealthy family as a domestic worker. Instead she found herself trapped in the nightmare of domestic slavery. Hundreds of domestic workers from overseas find themselves in the UK working for employers that abuse them, afford them little or no pay and often lock them in the very homes they are working in. Currently, UK law stops migrant domestic workers from leaving these employers. The tied visa system in the UK means they have to remain with the employer they arrived with.

When I left my country in 2002 I was very happy. That is the first time I'm traveling to the —to the place by plane, I was very surprised, I was happy, you know. When I go there I will come here after, like two or three weeks, I come to know, like, I never expected this kind of a job. 

You know, I wake up around like 6:30 so when the kids wake up, so I have to wake up with them at what time they sleep, around like 12 or 11 or 11:30. We don't have any schedule, like, time, like you have to start like six o'clock and finish like eight o’ clock though we are working like 24 hours because even the kids will sleep with us in the nighttime so, you know, sometimes if they wake up even we have to wake up. It's that kind of - it is not a fixed time, it's not flexible, no.

So we don't have any day off, no, we don't have any freedom like we are like in the cage. It is not our decision to change the employer or here we have the rights we can't change if we don't want to work with them, we can't change day off, we cannot go outside, they don't allow to keep the mobile [phone], we cannot talk, so all this rules we have to follow so we we don't have any chance to, "okay I can leave this employer and we can jump to another employer" - no, we don't have any rights like that.

The employers are the one who hold the passport with them, not us, no - just when we get down from the airport they are the one we have to hand over all our documents to, so when we travel then they will give the passport to you so, okay, you can get inside. They will come to the airport and they will hand over your passport and wait and go and come back so that's it, no, later only when I come here I know that they shouldn't hold a passport but it's for us.

When I enter into UK they said, "oh here the police are not good, the men are not good," you know, just to brainwash us. They said, "oh here they are like these bad people are here,” you know, there they declare the salary is different in front of the embassy. So they're paying ok, for a week they are paying so much of money. When I come here, it's entirely it's different when I come here. I don't have a separate room for me to stay in, I have to stay with the kids. They never paid me my salary like five and a half months.

I stayed with them five and a half months, when I asked them, "ok, I have to send the money because my family is waiting. If I send the money only they are going to have the food so if you keep their money with you like five and a half months I can't.” They said, "you cannot send this money to your country," I said "why?" That time I decided okay I want to leave them, then I want to be free from them. So then I come out. It's very hard, like, I had only a six-month visa, it's almost like 10 or 15 days my visa should be expired, so I come out I only had only 10 days left, so you know it is very difficult. I cannot find the employer, my visa will be gone after 6 months, I have to leave the country and go, it's very hard. So that time I decided, "okay within this 10 days I can do it." So I come out so I found the jobs. Because I was happy, I never expected so much of money per week like, Monday to Friday, the employer is very, very good, so I was thinking "oh my god" after like six and a half years I got the freedom when I come outside, so I said "okay, this is - now I am free." I was so happy.

As told to Freedom United