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.
Gina R. travelled from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia for domestic work. Once she was no longer needed by one employer, she and other women workers were locked in the agency until there was further work for them, even if they wanted to return home. She attempted to escape with three other Filipinos, jumping from the third floor and injuring herself. She was taken to hospital and subsequently questioned by police.
When I was in the agency, it was locked. I was only given plain rice once a day…. I wanted to go to the Philippines. I told him I want to go. They didn’t tell me anything, they were going to sell me to another employer. I said, ‘I don’t want to work anymore.’ I slept on the floor without any blanket.
Three Filipinos including me … jumped from the third floor at 3 a.m. We jumped. I fell down and hurt my hip and elbow so they brought me to the hospital…. I had to get a cast on my foot. When we jumped, a Filipino guy passed by and took us to the hospital in a cab.
The police [at the MOSA center] questioned me how many months I stayed with my employer, but they didn’t ask about my agent. They didn’t ask about my injuries because I was wearing an abaya.
Narrative as told to Human Rights Watch for their report “As If I Am Not Human”:Abuses against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia.
All credit given.