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Maria D

2017 (Narrative Date)

There are an estimated 9000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Oman (GSI 2018). It 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. 

*Maria was 23 when a recruitment agent approached her with the promise of a lucrative 500 dollar salary per month and benefits.

It was easy because the person who got me the job had people he was working with. So you don't really know what's going on. All you get is your visa and your ticket. And then you pay some money and then you go to the airport. There's always someone waiting for you.

It's not what attracted me to Oman, it was the job... I needed to work.

You wake up at 4am, you make breakfast... you take it to everyone's house, after that, you clean the house, you help the kids with getting ready for school, you get like 15 minutes to eat, then back to the kitchen. 

You're working from 4am up to 11pm, you have a lot to do, you have to iron their clothes... and then you have to rest one hour. And then when you wake up you have to clean again, it doesn't matter if it's already clean, they just don't care.

I called the person who got me there in the first place, I called the agent in Kampala, and I'm like 'what did you get me into? There is nothing sensible I'm doing here. I'm just tired, I need to go.’ And he's like 'Don't worry, we're going to set you up with something better, just hold on'. And I'm like 'No no no, I'm not going to do anything'. I almost went crazy. I stopped working (...) I just locked myself up in the room, I didn't go out. I call him and I tell him I just want to go home.

If you run you're going to end up on the streets, and if you end up on the streets you're going to be a prostitute because you cannot get a job. Not even the police is going to help you. Even if you run, they'll hold you and then they'll take you back to the house. Because they're like 'That's your boss, you're supposed to work. You signed a contract'.

How I got back, it's really disturbing. I had to do what I had to do, besides paying money. And then the guy was on my case. He was like ok, if you want me to get you a passport -- because he had my passport then -- I, had to sleep with him or something, whatever...yeah. And not only that, I had to pay him for my ticket with the little money I had, and then I came back home. 

It might be hard... and you're desperate. But you don't have to trust anyone, it could be a cousin or a friend pimping you out, don't just go because someone has given you money. Not all that glitters is gold.

Narrative provided by Radio France Internationale