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.
Sri H., travelled from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia for work. Her employer took her passport and locked her in the house. She was forced to work long hours for no money and subjected to sexual harassment. Sri H. called the Indonesian embassy for help.
My employer kept my passport and iqama. They locked me in the house from the outside with a key. There is no way that I could leave.
Several times I tried to run away, but I was unsuccessful because of the long distance.
My own employer…raped me once. But he touched me all the time, he did not only touch me, he also took off all my clothes. After raping me, the employer kept me in the bedroom. I had problems directly afterward. If I had gone to hospital, they would have seen it, but they kept me locked in the house for two weeks.
I worked for eight months but they only gave me one month’s salary. They promised to give me my salary every month, but in fact I fought with my sponsor all the time about my salary.”
There was no day off. They said I would get one every two months, but they were lying.
Once I went to the police. I called 999 [emergency number for the police]. What happened is that the police asked me to go out with him and have sex with him
I called the agent, and I called the embassy, only the embassy answered me to give me hope or a solution…. I wish the embassy could do more or better. The government of Indonesia should fight. I wish the embassy could be strict with the Saudi people. All the procedures are moving very slowly
They have tried to get my nine months’ salary and ticket, but my sponsor doesn’t answer
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.