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.
Chitra G. travelled from Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia for work. While she was told she would be working for a single employer, upon arrival she found herself working for three families in one house. She was forced to work long hours with no rest and the salary she was promised was not received.
I had no day off. The agency [in Sri Lanka] told me that if my employer is good, they will give me a day off and a salary of 600 riyals. But when I came here, they said, ‘No, the salary is 400 riyals.
I wanted to call my family, to write letters. They told me, “For two years, you will have no contact with your family
I came here to work for only one family, but instead there were three families in the house. Each floor had a different family. On the first floor was the grandmother, on the second was the employer and his wife and their nine kids, and on the third, was one son, his wife, and their two girls and son. I slept at 1 a.m. and if the children had school, I woke up at 4 a.m.… I worked the whole day cleaning, cooking, and ironing.
Narrative as told to Human Rights Watch for their report “As If I Am Not Human”:Abuses against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia.
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