There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery in the United Kingdom (Global Slavery Index 2018). According to the 2017 annual figures provided by the National Crime Agency, 5, 145 potential victims of modern slavery were referred through the National Referral Mechanism in 2017, of whom 2,454 were female, 2688 were male and 3 were transgender, with 41% of all referrals being children at the time of exploitation. People are subjected to slavery in the UK in the form of domestic servitude, labour exploitation, organ harvesting and sexual exploitation, with the largest number of potential victims originating from Albania, China, Vietnam and Nigeria. This data however does not consider the unknown numbers of victims that are not reported.
Grace was born in the Philippines then moved to the United Arab Emirates before travelling to London for work as a domestic worker. She was forced to work long hours with little rest and was subjected to physical and sexual abuse. After three years Grace ran away and was introduced to an organisation for domestic workers.
There was a time I was about to kill myself because it was really too much stress and everything.
I wake up in the morning around 5 o’clock just to prepare the food for the children. 5 o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock in the evening so that’s how I work. 5 o’clock in the morning until 11 in the evening and then if I went to sleep my employer wake me up to do something.
Of course, I’m a house maid and he’s my employer, all things he ask me to do. So, I wake up in the middle of the night to rub his feet and clean his nails.
I work with them for three years, but they don’t let me go home. It’s just like when you’re standing on the sink washing the plates and everything, he just come to you and rub his front on your back. And of course, I can’t tell anyone because I don’t have a day off.
Even here in London he still doing the things he just asked me to go to the bathroom because the bathroom is leaking even if it’s not. So he just slapped me on the bottom and tried to harass me and hold my private things.
So, there’s nothing I can do because even here I don’t know nobody. Like 2 o’clock in the morning he was sleeping, I put some clothes into a black bag, a bin bag, because that’s the time they throwing all the bin. I think that was on Tuesday, I put some of my clothes in there and just run away from him, he was sleeping all the time. I don’t have nothing, I don’t have money or anything but I just walking on the street until morning. Like 2 o’clock until 7 o’clock in the morning. I don’t know London, I don’t know nobody until I met one Filipino woman and when I met her, she just took me to her place.
This group is really helping me a lot, like all the domestic workers here, we have the same experience. And through them, all of us were helping each other.
My Arab employer, they’re holding my passport, they don’t give your passport.
What keeps me going is I’m thinking my family, how poor we are, how I really wanted to help my family because in our country it’s really difficult.
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery International.
Original narrative can be found here