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Cristina M.

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.

Cristina M. travelled from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia for work. Her employer locked her in the house and forced her to work long hours without pay.

I was not able to communicate with my family…. I had no mobile, because in my contract, it said don’t bring a mobile, that’s why

They locked the house from the outside every day. That is why I climbed out of the window. I felt crazy when I was inside. You think, ‘how can I get out of the house?

Madam shouted and slapped us. I cannot work without food and with no rest. I brought two pants, two bras, five underwear, and I wore them all to save time. We all went together at 5:30 a.m. when our employers were praying. I jumped out of the window.

My salary is 750 riyals, but madam did not give it to me. I had to buy my own food, all my needs, my own napkins, soap, buy my own medicine if sick. She would cut my salary if the kitchen was not stocked with enough tomatoes or chicken. When the chicken finished, she cut 300 riyals from 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.