Open Menu


2006 (Narrative date)

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. 

Padma paid an agent for work in Dubai but was instead trafficked to Saudi Arabia and held in domestic servitude. She was subjected to physical abuse daily.  

I paid 22,000 rupees to the agent to go to Dubai, but he sent me to Saudi Arabia; he played it wrong [tricked me].  

[My employer] beat me on the head with a broomstick and I still have the pain. The second time she tried to do it I removed my slipper and hit her back. The lady got ready to beat me…. The lady put hot water and was getting ready to put it on my face when I put my arms up to protect my face. 


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.