There are an estimated 336,000 people living in modern slavery in Tanzania (GSI 2018). Internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and characteristically facilitated by victims’ family members, friends, or intermediaries offering assistance with education or securing employment in urban areas. Impoverished children from the rural interior remain most vulnerable to trafficking. Girls are exploited in domestic servitude throughout the country and in sex trafficking particularly in tourist hubs and along the border with Kenya.
Sophia was 14 years old when she became a domestic worker. Forced to work long hours with no rest, Sophia was subjected to verbal abuse and her pay was withheld. One day Sophia was finally able to leave her situation and contacted Agape, an organisation supported by Anti-Slavery International. Sophia is now rebuilding her life.
I became a child domestic worker when I was 14. I completed primary school in my home district, Nzega, and I passed the exam to go to secondary school. Then my father got sick with HIV/AIDs and my mother couldn’t pay for me to go to secondary school. I just stayed at home.
Then a relative told me that someone was looking for a domestic worker, and told me that I could get paid 30,000 per month (£10 per month). My employers didn’t give me a contract though, so I had to start work at about 5am and I didn’t get any chance to rest until late at night after everyone else was sleeping. I was working for about 17 hours each day.
The man of the house wasn’t too bad, but his wife was very cruel to me. If she wasn’t pleased with my work – which was quite often – she shouted at me and insulted me. I had to work for several months without pay, and I had no way of communicating with my parents.
One day I left the house to go to the church and find my relative, who suggested the job to me in the first place. They came back with me to my employers and told them that they had to pay me for the time I’d worked but they just said they couldn’t. They only paid me for a few of the months, and they refused to let me leave.
I finally managed to persuade them that my parents were very sick, and so they let me leave. I went to another relative nearby, and he recommended that I visit Agape (organisation founded by a former child domestic worker who had been supported by the previous Anti-Slavery project, now Anti-Slavery’s partner organisation). When I went there they were very helpful, and I was admitted to their school. They also pay for my health insurance, so I don’t have to be scared of what will happen to me if I get sick.
I don’t want other children to become child domestic workers like I was. My dream is to become a teacher so I can educate children, and help encourage them to stay in school. I am happy now. I can communicate with my family, and sometimes my uncle visits me at church.
I finally feel like my life is on the right track, and I have hope for the future.
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery International