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.
Sri Lankan domestic worker Indrani P. thought she was travelling to Dubai for work. Instead an agent took her to Riyadh where her employers beat and threatened her daily and withheld her salary.
I went to the agent … I wanted Dubai, they said we will put you in a house with no kids…. I didn’t know that I was not going to Dubai, I only found out on the day that I was leaving. When they handed me the ticket I saw that I was going to Riyadh.
If you face any problem, then call us…. When I faced problems, I called them, and they didn’t do anything.
They beat me, they told me they would heat the iron and burn me. She slapped me and said she was going to iron my face. I got scared and ran away.
Twice the police spoke to my employers. The first day, they said there was no such maid at our house. The second time, no one picked up the phone. In the camp [MOSA center], the person who translated was another housemaid. They asked if I was willing to work in another house, and I refused. They asked if I had cash for a ticket, and I said yes.
They gave me six months’ salary all at once, but not the remaining two months. They gave me the salary and scolded me. They said, ‘Shut up and take what we give you.
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