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.
Lakshmi was trafficked from India to Qatar into domestic servitude, the age of 24. She was sexually abused and beaten by her employers who took away her documents. When she asked to go back to India she was told she would have to pay. The harassment continued until her case was taken up by the Indian embassy in Qatar.
I was promised by an agent to send me to Qatar and work as a domestic worker. They took my identity card to change my date of birth, masking my age of 24 to 27. The agent told me that his own sister works as a recruitment agent in Qatar and that his sister will come to the airport to pick me.
I arrived in Qatar on May 2015, but instead of a woman, a man approached me, identified me and took me to the recruitment office. I was taken to the home of a family who asked me to work there as a maid. Four male maintenance workers were also living there.
After three days, they all started abusing, beating and locking me in a bathroom for many hours. They took away my documents, including my contact list of phone numbers... I told them that I will meet and report those harassments to the lady employer, but they never allowed me to see her.
At last, I was able to meet the lady agent, Mrs. K, and told her about the sexual harassment, abusing, beating and other things happening to me at the workplace. She very shockingly replied: “What is wrong in sexually satisfying your male co-workers and the employer, feel that they are your husbands”. She did not help me…
The harassment continued, which became unbearable. I requested the lady agent to send me back to my country, but she started demanding me to pay 2,700€ and if I can’t pay, I can’t go back to India. She contacted the agent in India and briefed him on my request. He asked the lady agent to shred all my documents.
After a few days, I was allowed to speak with my family members in presence of the lady agent in the office. While I was telling them about the harassment, the lady agent immediately slashed my head to the wall and threatened me, telling me what to say and started beating me with a hard stick. The male agent who sent me to Qatar spoke to me on the phone and started insulting me with vulgar language. After that incident, they treated me even worst. I didn’t receive any meals anymore, I was being thrown on the floor and severely beaten with legs and slippers.
The Indian embassy in Qatar was informed and filed a case in the local Indian police station against the local agent who sent me to Qatar. Finally, the agent handed over the passport... I arrived back to India after 27 days of work in Qatar.
Narrative source Youth Underground, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking through youth education, awareness-raising and advocacy.
Original narrative can be found here:https://www.facebook.com/YouthUnderground.CH/posts/1701586019876866