There are an estimated 520,000 experiencing modern slavery and human trafficking in the Arab States (GSI 2018). The Arab States are made up of 11 countries including Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. In Syria, people are exploited in the country and Syrians are trafficked abroad. The ongoing conflict in Syria makes people extremely vulnerable to trafficking. Syrian children are reportedly vulnerable to forced early marriages, including to members of terrorist groups, which also often leads to commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. Children displaced within the country also continue to be subjected to forced labour, particularly forced begging.
Marie was recruited in Manila by an agency that promised her domestic work in Romania. After passing through airport security, she realized her flight was not bound for Romania, but Aleppo, Syria. On arrival, the receiving agency confiscated Marie’s mobile and assigned her to a family of 13. For 8 months, Marie lived in domestic servitude. She was verbally and physically abused. After suffering burns to her face inflicted by her employer, Marie was admitted to hospital. Despite death threats from her agency, Marie decided to run away. She managed to get to Lebanon and find protection at the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.
I want to tell this story about what happened in Syria.
But if we go back to our family how can we pay back the money that we borrowed? I can’t quit, you know. I decide to go to Syria.
“You cannot use a mobile here in Syria. Read your contract. Your contract here in Syria is 3 years.”
“You don’t have days off. You cannot call your husband, your family.”
I work for 8 months and we don’t have a salary. We are like slaves, you know?
Narrative credit to Arise Foundation
Original narrative can be viewed here