There are an estimated 4,000 people living in modern slavery in Qatar (GSI 2018). Qatar is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labour and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution. Men and women from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and other countries voluntarily migrate to Qatar as unskilled laborers and domestic workers, often paying illegal and exorbitant fees to unscrupulous recruiters in the labour-sending countries, thereby increasing their vulnerability to debt bondage. Some workers subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, to include restricted movement, payment withholding, passport confiscation, exit permit retention, and threats of deportation or abuse. Individuals in Qatar sell visas to migrants and occasionally demand regular payments, enabling migrant workers to work illegally and without legal recourse against their respective sponsors, although reportedly this trend is on the decline.
‘Angelica’ was 49 years old when she travelled outside of the Philippines for the first time in 2011. She was married and had three children. Her employers were a married couple. They would often fight, Angelica said, and the husband would throw things at his wife. She was paid every month and would send the money home to her family. For the first month she was paid 730 riyals [US$200] and then 750 riyals [US$205] every month after that. The contract she had signed promised that she would earn US$400 per month.
I told Madam I was scared of sir. When sir shouted, I was scared. She was scared too. She was very small, and he was very big. He was drunk a lot, he would smoke cigarettes and drink. When he was drunk she would only whisper to me. I told Madam I was scared because I was alone at home. I wanted to work outside of the house more. I never spoke to him; I would speak only to her.
I don’t have any friends in Doha. I’m a Christian, but I was never allowed to go to church. Madam told me not to go outside. I could only go outside with her. When Madam went shopping, I would go with her.
The employers have my ATM card. At the time of the attack, I had 1100 riyals [US$302], a bit more than a month’s salary, saved under my bed...I planned to buy a computer for my son with that money.
[In October 2012 Angelica went to the prosecutor's office and spent more than an hour telling the public prosecutor the full story. The prosecutor was male, as was the interpreter. No women were present.]
I told the interpreter that I wanted justice for myself. They said that they would analyse my case and get back to me. I am now waiting for a decision from the court. I don’t know what day, what month I will go to court. They didn’t tell me anything about what would happen. I haven’t heard back from them, the prosecutor has never gotten back to me. I don’t have his number so I can’t call him. I called the embassy yesterday to ask about my case, they didn’t have any information. Now...the more I think about it, I want to go home. I think I’ll have to drop the case. My situation is very hard. My family wants me to come home. My employer isn’t going to give me anything; he isn’t going to pay my salary. I don’t think I’ll win my case. I think I lost my case.
Narrative provided by Amnesty International