There are an estimated 4,000 people living in modern slavery in Qatar (GSI 2018). Qatar is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labour and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution. Men and women from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and other countries voluntarily migrate to Qatar as unskilled laborers and domestic workers, often paying illegal and exorbitant fees to unscrupulous recruiters in the labour-sending countries, thereby increasing their vulnerability to debt bondage. Some workers subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, to include restricted movement, payment withholding, passport confiscation, exit permit retention, and threats of deportation or abuse. Individuals in Qatar sell visas to migrants and occasionally demand regular payments, enabling migrant workers to work illegally and without legal recourse against their respective sponsors, although reportedly this trend is on the decline.
27-year-old SS arrived in Qatar in 2011 as a domestic worker
I signed a contract which said US$400 a month for a 2 year contract ... The agency picked me up from the airport ... The next day madam and her husband came to the agency to take me. I think maybe I signed some other contract. I don’t know what this was. I was only told at the agency that it was only 700 riyals [US$192]. I thought, ‘What can I do?’ My mobile phone was taken from me in the Philippines.
It [the room given to her] had no lock. There was a mattress on the floor, an ironing board, 2 cupboards filled with plates, pans and rice. It was like a junk shop. I kept my clothes in my own bag.
I asked to go to church once but they said to me ‘be Muslim – if you be Muslim I will let you go to the mosque.'
She [her employer] would call me an animal. She would say ‘go to your country’. I would keep quiet as I never want to answer back.
I went to the playground with the children as there was a picnic. I told the friends of theirs [her employers] who came to the picnic that I wanted to go and that Sir had hit me in the face. Sir came over quickly and his friend grabbed me and said, 'you have to stay in the Arabic country. Better for you as you are stupid’. Then they took me back in the car. They said to me ‘if you don’t come back into the car I will hit you.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International