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Tahira

The United Arab Emirates is a destination for men and women predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers make up over 90 per cent of the UAE’s private sector workforce and are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Though some travel willingly, they are subjected to conditions of modern slavery including withholding of passports, non-payment of wages, restrictions of movement and threats of physical and sexual abuse. Trafficking of domestic workers is facilitated by the fact that normal protections for workers under UAE labour laws do not apply to domestic workers, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse. Tahira S. travelled from Indonesia to UAE for domestic work. Upon arrival, her passport was confiscated, she was locked inside her employer’s home, forced to work 15 hours a day and beaten daily. Tahira received no rest periods or days off and had to sleep on the floor with no blanket or mattress. She was given food only once a day and was never paid a wage. Following a violent incident in May 2013, Tahira was able to escape from her employer and obtain medical treatment, however she suffered permanent damage to her arm which had been broken by her employer 2 months earlier.

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Farah S.

The United Arab Emirates is a destination for men and women predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers make up over 90 per cent of the UAE’s private sector workforce and are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Though some travel willingly, they are subjected to conditions of modern slavery including withholding of passports, non-payment of wages, restrictions of movement and threats of physical and sexual abuse. Trafficking of domestic workers is facilitated by the fact that normal protections for workers under UAE labour laws do not apply to domestic workers, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse. Farah S. travelled from Indonesia to Dubai through an agency and became engaged in domestic work. She was hired to work for an elderly couple but found that she had to serve around 20 people. Farah was required to work from 6am to 3am with no rest and no day off, her employer would shout at her and did not pay her for 3 months. When she asked to go back to the agency, she was told ‘I already bought you’. Farah was able to escape this abusive employer and went to live with other ‘runaway’ workers in a rented space, however this turned out to be a brothel.

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Arti L.

The United Arab Emirates is a destination for men and women predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers make up over 90 per cent of the UAE’s private sector workforce and are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Though some travel willingly, they are subjected to conditions of modern slavery including withholding of passports, non-payment of wages, restrictions of movement and threats of physical and sexual abuse. Trafficking of domestic workers is facilitated by the fact that normal protections for workers under UAE labour laws do not apply to domestic workers, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse. Arti L. travelled from Indonesia and gained work as a domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates. Arti L. was subjected to physical and sexual abuse frequently and was raped by her male employer in July 2013 when he took her to clean a second house he had purchased. Arti L. managed to escape several days after this incident and attempted to file charges against her employer.

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Shandra (Narrative 3)

There are an estimated 57,700 people in modern slavery in the US according to GSI estimates. The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Shandra Woworuntu arrived in the US hoping to start a new career in the hotel industry. Instead, she found she had been trafficked into a world of prostitution and sexual slavery, forced drug-taking and violence. It was months before she was able to turn the tables on her persecutors.

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Siti

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. Siti was 14 years old when her last remaining relative passed away and she needed to earn money. She was approached by a woman who told her she could get her factory work in Malaysia. However, upon arrival in Malaysia Siti was forced to work long hours in various homes doing domestic work. In the five years she was enslaved, Siti did not earn any money and was subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Following a tip off, Siti was finally rescued during a raid operation.

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Rohiti

Significant numbers of domestic workers are brought to the UK each year, including an unknown number who travel into and out of the UK with the families they are working for in other countries. In the UK, migrant domestic workers are currently tied to their employer by the immigration rules, increasing their vulnerability to exploitative practices by dissuading workers to come forward and risk deportation. Kalayaan, a UK-based NGO for migrant domestic workers, found high levels of exploitative treatment from employers in a 2015 study of their domestic worker clients. However, the consistently higher rates of abuse experienced by those on tied visas indicate an urgent need to review the current system. Rohiti was exploited in domestic work in Hong Kong and the UK, before running away. She explains that she is unable to pursue her employers because she is unable to stay in the UK after her visa expired.

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Wati

Wati was enslaved in forced domestic labour between 1983 and 2000, where she was beaten and abused. She tried to escape in 1990 and 1992, and escaped successfully in 2000. She told her story to another survivor, Kanthi. Both women were part of the Survivor Advisory Caucus attached to the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles (CAST LA).

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Ros

Ros is an Indonesian woman who was a domestic slave in Indonesia. She became enslaved after being made a false offer of work by a man who then imprisoned her and physically abused her for four years. Her attempts to run away failed more than once because of the complicity of officials and others in her enslavement. Her narrative suggests that the police deliberately hampered their own investigation and refused to take Ros’ situation seriously. The government has taken some positive steps towards protecting domestic workers. Following pressure from local and international organisations, including Walk Free, the Indonesian House of Representatives recommended the Domestic Workers Protection Bill for its list of priority legislation in 2016. Ros was enslaved without leaving Indonesia, but significant numbers of Indonesians are exploited in forced labor and debt bondage abroad in Asia and the Middle East, primarily in domestic service, factories, construction, and manufacturing, on Malaysian palm oil plantations, and on fishing vessels throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

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Rini

Rini is an Indonesian woman who was a domestic slave in Indonesia, where she was confined to the house, verbally and physically abused, and her salary withheld. She was only able to escape from the situation when one of the other workers in the house died of injuries from the abuse. The government has taken some positive steps towards protecting domestic workers. Following pressure from local and international organisations, including Walk Free, the Indonesian House of Representatives recommended the Domestic Workers Protection Bill for its list of priority legislation in 2016. Rini was enslaved without leaving Indonesia, but significant numbers of Indonesians are exploited in forced labor and debt bondage abroad in Asia and the Middle East, primarily in domestic service, factories, construction, and manufacturing, on Malaysian palm oil plantations, and on fishing vessels throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

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Putri

Putri is an Indonesian woman who was enslaved in Malaysia as a domestic servant for multiple employers. 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, often in pursuit of better economic opportunities. However, workers can find themselves imprisoned, exploited, and in debt bondage. The law allows many of the fees of migration, which are first paid by employers, to be deducted from workers’ wages, incentivising employers to prevent workers from ending their employment before fees are recovered.

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Irene

Irene is an Indonesian woman who was enslaved in Malaysia doing factory work that was hazardous to her health. 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, often in pursuit of better economic opportunities. However, workers can find themselves imprisoned, exploited, and in debt bondage. The law allows many of the fees of migration, which are first paid by employers, to be deducted from workers’ wages, incentivizing employers to prevent workers from ending their employment before fees are recovered.

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Intan

Intan is an Indonesian woman who was enslaved in Malaysia doing work that was hazardous to her health. 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, often in pursuit of better economic opportunities. However, workers can find themselves imprisoned, exploited, and in debt bondage. The law allows many of the fees of migration, which are first paid by employers, to be deducted from workers’ wages, incentivizing employers to prevent workers from ending their employment before fees are recovered.

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Ima (Narrative 1)

At age 16, Ima Matul was forced into an arranged marriage in Indonesia with a man 12 years her senior. After running away, was offered an opportunity to work in the United States as a nanny. But instead she was held in domestic forced labour for three years in Los Angeles. She told her story to another survivor, Flor, in 2009. Both women were part of the Survivor Advisory Caucus attached to the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles (CAST LA). Another narrative by Ima can be found within the archive.

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Ima (Narrative 2)

At age 16, Ima Matul was forced into an arranged marriage in Indonesia with a man 12 years her senior. After running away, was offered an opportunity to work in the United States as a nanny. But instead she was held in domestic forced labour for three years in Los Angeles. She told her story to another survivor, Flor, in 2009. Both women were part of the Survivor Advisory Caucus attached to the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles (CAST LA). Another narrative by Ima can be found within the archive.

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Aulia

Aulia is an Indonesian woman who was enslaved in Malaysia. 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, often in pursuit of better economic opportunities. However, workers can find themselves imprisoned, exploited, and in debt bondage. The law allows many of the fees of migration, which are first paid by employers, to be deducted from workers’ wages, incentivizing employers to prevent workers from ending their employment before fees are recovered.

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Shandra

Shandra Woworuntu graduated from college with a major in Finance and Bank Management in her native Indonesia. Looking for an opportunity to work in the US, she responded to an advertisement for a job that promised a six month position in the hotel industry in Chicago. But the agent who met her at New York City’s JFK airport drove her to the brothel and took control of her passport and identification. When she tried to protest, he put a gun to her head. She was forced to work for 24 hours a day at different brothels throughout New York and Connecticut and eventually escaped by jumping out of a bathroom window in Brooklyn. Her traffickers were prosecuted and Shandra now works with anti-human trafficking advocacy groups and is a legislative lobbyist in Washington DC.