There are an estimated 61,000 people living in modern slavery in Saudi Arabia (GSI 2018). It is a source and destination country for men and women trafficked from South and South East Asia and Africa. People voluntarily migrate to the country to work in a variety of sectors including construction and domestic service; many of these workers are vulnerable to forced labour. Traffickers and brokers often illegally recruit migrants to work in Saudi Arabia and subsequently forced them into domestic servitude or debt bondage. Female domestic workers are particularly at risk of trafficking due to their isolation inside private residences. Non-payment or late payment of wages remains a complaint from foreign workers, while employer's withholding of worker's passports remains a significant problem. Trafficking perpetrators include businesses of all sizes, private families, recruitment companies in both Saudi Arabia and labour-sending countries, and organized criminal elements.
Mila* was trafficked to Saudi Arabia after being offered work that would allow her to support her children. Upon arrival, the work is not what Mila expected, she has been overworked, underpaid and subjected to daily discrimination.
When opportunities come, always remember all that glitters is not gold.
A stranger gives a woman trying to fend for her children a promise of greener pastures. All she has ever wanted to do is raise her children well and educate them so that they can get a better future. She takes the deal without considering the negative side of the deal. She is promised a good life and a secure job for two years; little does she know she is signing up for modern day slavery. That woman is I.
The broker and agent were all smiles when I accepted the offer. They salivated for the big money they will make after sealing the deal. I was not aware of what awaited me in the country of destination in this case, Saudi Arabia.
The process was swift and all paperwork was done within a month. The agent promises that after you leave they will monitor your progress and will always communicate. All these promises are not true it’s just a way of making sure you don’t back off the deal.
As I am writing this, it’s been one year and four months in Saudi Arabia. Its been a struggle. I am being overworked, underpaid and discriminated against. No one values me here. I thank God I am able to use the internet to communicate.
It will be my second Christmas away from my family it feels so sad. I am lonely I can’t wait to return home to my family and children.
We can all join hands to fight modern day slavery and yes somebody is in the process of being trafficked, as I am writing this.
I wish you all a merry Christmas. Thank you HAART for standing with the survivors. Thank you for fighting for fighting with us.
Narrative provided by HAART Kenya