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. Sisi., R. was trafficked into domestic servitude in Saudi Arabia. She was physically abused by her employer and was not paid for her work. At the time of this interview, Sisi had been waiting at the embassy for 11 months to receive the six years of salary owed her by her employers. In order to track the employer down, embassy staff and Saudi police asked her to direct them to the employer’s home.
My employer heated a knife and put it on my cheek. He ordered me to stick out my tongue and put the hot knife on my tongue. A week after that I ran away…. When I got injured from their beatings, they did not take me to the hospital.
My employer did not pay my salary for nine years and three months. [After I complained to the embassy] they paid me my salary for two years and seven months. They have not paid the rest. I have been here [at the embassy] for 11 months…. I will not go back home before I get my money.
We have tried this process six times … I get lost on the way, I cannot find the home.
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