Open Menu

Sutiati S.

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.

Suiati travelled from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia to support her family. She was prevented from contacting her family or leaving her employer for over nine years.

I have been working here for nine years and four months. In that time, I have not visited my family in Indonesia. The employer promised me that I could visit when he hired a second domestic worker, but I still could not go when she arrived. My mother and father need money, they need me to go home, but my employer didn’t want me to leave.

If my children have gotten married, I do not know.

When I was alone, my employer tried to seduce me, but I said I only want halal (permissible under Islamic law) money, I won’t do such things. I was angry, I just wanted to work well and cleanly, that is all.


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.