The Global Slavery Index has estimated that there are almost 3 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in the region of the Middle East and North Africa. Oman is a transit and destination country for men and women primarily from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, most of whom migrate willingly as domestic servants or low-skilled workers in the country’s construction, agriculture and service sectors. Trafficked persons subsequently experience conditions of modern slavery such as the confiscation of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, long working hours without rest and physical or sexual abuse.
Anisa L. from Zanzibar, left to find work abroad in Oman in 2011 where she worked for 2 years for 21 hours a day with no rest and no days off. From Oman Anisa travelled to Dubai for 2 years from 2013 to 2015 where she was charged for migrating by the agency arranging her travel.
I may have more experience, but a Filipino [worker] gets 1,500 [AED per month] ($408). Why do I get 600 [AED] ($163)? I should get 1,500 too. The Philippines [government] says [to UAE] you have to give 1,500 or no more workers. But Tanzania [government]? No. They don’t do anything.
I woke up maybe 4:30 a.m. early in the morning, and went to sleep at 12 a.m. No break. Ironing, cleaning, cooking, looking after animals—two cows and ten goats, and cutting grass. No day off at all. All the time working like a robot.
[her employer repeatedly exposed his genitals to her and a fellow domestic worker]
Always doing that, just pulling down his pants. When we saw him, we would start running.
When I was working there I didn’t see anyone, no Swahili speakers, no neighbours, just this family. I just stayed in the house from day one until the last day.
[When Anisa migrated to Dubai in November 2013 she incurred agency fees]
Same medical check-up, same process for visa, and ticket. But this time they charged us money: 400,000 TZS ($250) to labor agents for preparation to go to Dubai.
In Dubai … I saw the agents beating domestic workers because they just returned and got tired. They said they don’t want to go work, and they [the agency] want to force them to work.
As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch