There are an estimated 212,000 people living in modern slavery in Malaysia (GSI 2018). The majority of those exploited are migrant and undocumented workers in the country. Foreign workers constitute more than 20 percent of the Malaysian workforce and typically migrate voluntarily—often illegally—to Malaysia from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries, mostly in pursuit of better economic opportunities. Some of these migrants are subjected to forced labour or debt bondage by their employers, employment agents, or informal labour recruiters when they are unable to pay the fees for recruitment and associated travel. Rabi, a Nepali worker who arrived in Malaysia in October 2007, took a loan at an annual interest rate of over 40 per cent from a private lender to pay his agent 85,000 Nepali rupees ($1,130). He expected to be able to pay back the loan within one year, based on his agent’s assurance that he would be well paid in Malaysia, but this was not the case. Rabi was not paid for his work and when he was hospitalised in November 2008 for appendicitis, a member of the church he attended paid his hospital bill.
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 Chamali W. was trafficked to Saudi Arabia. She describes the sexual harassment she experienced form her employer’s two sons.
There are an estimated 6000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Kuwait. Men and women migrate from South and Southeast Asia, Egypt, the Middle East, and increasingly throughout Africa to work in Kuwait, predominantly in the domestic service, construction, hospitality, and sanitation sectors. The vast majority of migrant workers arrive voluntarily; however, upon arrival some sponsors subject migrants to forced labour, including through non-payment of wages, protracted working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as confinement to the workplace and the withholding of passports. Many of the migrant workers arriving in Kuwait have paid exorbitant fees to labour recruiters in their home countries or are coerced into paying labour broker fees in Kuwait which, according to Kuwaiti law, should be paid by the employer—a practice making workers highly vulnerable to forced labour, including debt bondage. To a lesser extent, migrant women are also subjected to forced prostitution. Sahara was 16 years old in 1996 when, encouraged by her husband, she left Bangladesh for Kuwait to find work. However, upon arrival Sahara was taken to a home where she was forced to provide sexual services, subjected to physical abuse and denied food. Sahara was finally able to leave and return home, however her relationship with her husband has deteriorated as a result of her migration.
India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage. Sanjay was forced to borrow money from someone in his village when members of his family became ill. In order to pay back the debt Sanjay was forced to work hard labour. When people started demanding their money back, Sanjay's son offered to travel to Gujarat to do construction work and send money back. However, this money soon stopped. Unable to repay his debt Sanjay went to the local Panchayat but was informed he had to return the money any way he could. Sanjay was therefore forced to work wherever he was told until the loans had been repaid.
India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage. Sunita was 14 when she was forced to marry and move to live with her new husband. Sunita tells of her husband’s poor economic condition and how they have had to borrow money for events such as marriages and funerals. As a result, Sunita herself must work for daily wage labour and her son has had to leave school to work. However, Sunita tells of how their employers often withhold wages which means they have been unable to pay of their debts.
Entire families migrate every year from other states in India to find work in Punjab’s brick kilns. The survey data suggest that there are more than 18 million people or 1.4 percent of the total population, who are living in conditions of modern slavery in India. Industries implicated in survey data include domestic work, the construction and sex industries, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, manual labour, and forced begging. Most of India’s slavery problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata—lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups—are most vulnerable. Ruhi tells of how poverty, a lack of job opportunities and healthcare needs in Uttar Pradesh led her family to borrow money, and accept work from a broker of a brick kiln factory under the promise of Rs.8000 monthly, overtime pay and an advance. However, once her husband travelled to Silchar, her family was abused and the promises went unfulfilled.