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 labor-sending countries, and organized criminal elements.
Adelina travelled from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia for work to support her family and enable her children to go to school. She was prevented from contacting her family and subjected to verbal abuse by her employer.
I am a single mother and I want my kids to go to school and to help my family. I came here [to Saudi Arabia] because I want money, but it wasn’t good for me.”
My family in the province, we have had no contact. Sometimes my mother called me, but madam didn’t give the phone to me, she said, ‘You have to work.’ Madam said, ‘If your mother calls you, you will run away.’ I said, ‘Madam, she got a calling card, and it costs a lot of money to call me.’ But she didn’t want me to talk to my family.
She always said bad things, like “you’re a dog, you’re poor, you’re only a servant here.” I said, “Yes, I’m a servant.” She was angry everyday. She was jealous of me. She told me, “Don’t talk to your Baba, if you do, I will kill you.” I said I treated him like my father. She said, “Don’t say that, you’re not a baby….” I heard all bad things from her, she told me, “You’re crazy, you’re garbage.” I was hurt. I said, “I’m human.” She said, “No, you are not human, you are an animal.”
Narrative as told to Human Rights Watch for their report “As If I Am Not Human”:Abuses against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia.
All credit given.