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.
Amanthi K. travelled to Saudi Arabia for work where she was trapped in domestic servitude. She became pregnant after her employer raped her and was sentenced to nine months in prison for adultery in 2006. Amanthi K. reported that there was an interpreter between Arabic and Sinhala, but that she had no lawyer. The Saudi authorities did not provide her with an opportunity to notify the Sri Lankan mission about her case and she had no contact or assistance from them during her ordeal.
The court decision was that if you have unwanted sex and have babies you are imprisoned for one-and-a-half years; that was the charge for me. I don’t exactly know what has happened [to my employer who raped me], but I think he was arrested and [he] paid a bribe.
The [judge] told me, ‘You have come here to work and you have committed a crime.’ I said that the boss has committed a crime and not me. Later on I was admitted to the hospital and after giving birth we [my daughter and I] ended up in prison.
Nobody came to see me in prison after that day in court. The embassy and the lawyer gave me no way to contact them.
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