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Ali. A

2017 (Narrative date)

There are a reported 9,200 enslaved in Singapore with the large number of foreign workers being the most vulnerable to human trafficking and enslavement. Many are brought to the country after being deceived by recruiters in their home countries with the promise of employment only to become victims of debt bondage, forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. 

Ali took a job in construction in Singapore. Forced to pay for training centres and agent's fees, Ali's salary was then withheld and his employer fled the country. With no money to pay back loans, Ali now faces legal action.

This is my first time in Singapore, and it cost me S$18,000 (£10,175) to get here. I was told I could earn S$1,000 a month as a construction worker, but I had to pay S$9,000 to the training centre and another S$9,000 in agent fees before I could arrive. My family had to sell land, borrow money and even take out a bank loan to pay for it all.

We were contracted to build a social housing development in Sembawang. I was paid the promised S$1,000 a month for the first five months, but didn’t get any payment for overtime. Then for three months we got no salary at all. We thought our boss would pay us eventually, but then we discovered he’d fled Singapore. There’s no way to get the money from him now.

I have my parents, three sisters and a brother to look after. Now they have to depend on my brother, because I have no money to send home.

All I’ve done is make problems for them. We weren’t able to make the monthly repayments, so now we’re in trouble. There’s a 20% fine on the loan, and men from the bank go to my parents’ house every day, shouting at them to pay it back. If we still can’t pay back the bank, they’re going to seize the deeds for my family’s land. The bank’s also lodged a police report against me, so when I do go back to Bangladesh, I might be detained.

We don’t have a lawyer, and I don’t have any money left to pay the agent. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get back home.


Courtesy of The Guardian