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Nur A.

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.

Indonesian domestic worker Nur A., travelled to Saudi Arabia for work but found herself trapped in domestic servitude. Nur was not paid for her labour unless she begged and she was sexually abused by her employer’s son.

They treated me like a dog, not like a human being. The whole family treated me like this…Everything [had to be] separate for me. I was not allowed to be with them. Even my clothes couldn’t be put in the washing machine. I had to hand wash them separately. I had to use separate forks and spoons.

The [employer’s] wife said, ‘You are a liar’ when I complained about what the [employer’s] brother had done. Sometimes the [employer’s] mother went out of the house, and that is when the brother raped me. He is a big guy, I couldn’t do anything. It happened three times. The first time when I was in the bathroom, he held my hair and dragged me around the door to the bedroom. It was useless for me to complain, because nobody believed me.

They would give me my salary, but only if I begged or cried. After four months, they would give me two months’ pay.

When the employer came to the SSWA [MOSA center], I kept waiting, I didn’t get my four months’ salary. I didn’t say anything about the rape to the police. There was no translator.

I am nervous to go to the SSWA [MOSA shelter], because I know most people who go there spend three or four months there. I am worried if I go to the SSWA I will spend a long time there.


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