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.
Fatima N., worked as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for almost ten years without pay.
They had my passport … They kept my iqama. My family asked me to return home. I asked my sponsor if I could return home, but they always refused. I was sad, I wanted to see my parents…. That’s why I want to go home, because my father passed away while I was here. I asked if I could go to the funeral, but they didn’t give me permission
They also put the phone in their room when they went out so I couldn’t make a phone call.
I arrived in 1997, and I have never received any salary…. They got angry when I asked about my salary.
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.