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Dammayanthi K.

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.

Dammayanthi K travelled from Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia for work in domestic service. Her employer confiscated her passport, locked her in the house and verbally abused her.

I decided to keep working because my passport was with the employer and they had to buy a ticket for me to come back [home]…. I did not know how to get out of the house and go out alone. Also, if I ran away they could have made up stories that I have stolen things from their house and run away.

They treat non-Muslims very badly, and when they came to know that I am a non-Muslim they started to shout at me the word ‘infidel’ [frequently]…. They did not like me at all for not being Muslim…. They also shouted at me, ‘dog,’ and ‘bull.


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