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Lilis H

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.

Lilis H travelled from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia for work in domestic service. In Saudi Arabia, Lilis’ employer locked her in the house and subjected her to physical violence every day.

If my employer went out she locked me in the bathroom. This took place over eight months.

The day that I escaped, my employer…beat me with the cable over my whole body. She told me to go to the bathroom because she wanted to beat me some more. Before I went to the bathroom, I saw the key in the door and I ran away…. I hid behind the stairs until I saw a Pakistani delivery person. I asked him to help me. He said, “You are Muslim, I am Muslim, don’t be afraid. I will take you to the consulate, to the Indonesian people

My employer beat me with a cable. She beat me with a wooden stick on my head. It was very thick and a few feet long. She beat me everyday. She beat me on my eyes and on my back. My head swelled and I have some scars. I never went to the hospital.


Narrative credit to Human Rights Watch

Original Narrative can be found in Human Rights Watch Report “As If I am Not Human”: Abuses Against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia