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2013 (Narrative date)

The UK government implemented provisions of the Modern Slavery Act allowing foreign domestic workers who are trafficking victims to change employers during the six-month period for which they are admitted. Effective April 2016, any domestic worker determined to be a victim is allowed to remain in the UK for an additional two years. All domestic workers entering on an employment visa into the UK for more than 42 days must attend a session to inform them of their rights and available protections, although observers still argue that this system of “tied” visa status to actual employment continued to leave workers vulnerable, as it discouraged victims from reporting abuses. Sara was kept as a domestic slave by a wealthy Kuwaiti family in the UK, and was only able to escape because the porter of the building and the family’s neighbours noticed the situation and helped her to leave.

I am Sara from India. I lived with my elderly parents and had to provide for them. I moved to Kuwait to be a domestic worker for a wealthy family. I managed to save some money and send it to my parents. The Kuwaiti family was moving to the UK. They invited me to go with them and promised me better pay. When we arrived my world turned upside down. My employers took my passport, made me responsible for their baby 24 hours a day. I was locked in the flat and not allowed out, not even to church. I received no pay. I knew nobody. The next door flat heard from the porter about my employer’s treatment of me and helped me to escape. I found support from Kalayaan. Now I have found a new job. I am a nanny for a good family and live legally in the UK.

As told to the Human Trafficking Foundation