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Isdiah B.

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 Isdiah B. went to Saudi Arabia for work to pay off a loan owed to her neighbour but was trapped in domestic servitude. She was forced to sleep on a closet floor and tells of being raped by her employer.

My employer was always trying to rape me. I refused because I have a husband and children. [Starts crying] I tried to work for eight months because I have to pay a loan at home. I have a debt to my neighbors for my children’s treatment in the hospital. My husband doesn’t work.

On the night of Eid al-Fitr, everybody had gone out, the employer told me to clean the ground floor where my male employer lives. When I was on that floor, there was nobody else there, and he was there naked. My employer raped me. He pushed me, I tried to resist, but I couldn’t push him off. He raped me on the sofa.

He said, “I have not taken advantage of you, because I paid a lot of money for you.” I said, “You have taken advantage of me because you raped me.”

I got a loan for 2 million rupiah from my neighbor and now I will have to pay 5 million. The rest is now 10 million. If we can’t pay the money, they will take our house and land. The house is a small thing, but the important thing is our land.

[My employer] bought my tickets [home] using my salary. He used three months salary for the ticket and gave me [only] five months salary.”

There is a closet for dresses. I slept on the floor, I had a very thin blanket


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