The Global Slavery Index has estimated that there are almost 3 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in the region of the Middle East and North Africa. Oman is a transit and destination country for men and women primarily from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, most of whom migrate willingly as domestic servants or low-skilled workers in the country’s construction, agriculture and service sectors. Trafficked persons subsequently experience conditions of modern slavery such as the confiscation of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, long working hours without rest and physical or sexual abuse.
Atiya Z.,” 28, from Kondowa, travelled to Oman in June 2015. Her employer confiscated her passport and phone, forced her to work 21 hours a day with no rest and no day off, did not allow her to eat food without permission, and beat her every day. She attempted to flee after three weeks, but her employer brought her back and told her she had to pay back the money they had paid for her. Atiya called her agent in Oman for help, but the agent said it was her employer’s decision. After this incident, Atiya said her employer confined her to the house. In April 2016, she fainted because she could not eat due to a swollen throat. When they returned from the hospital, her employers beat and raped her in retaliation.
I was sleeping in the kids’ room on a mattress on the floor. It was very thin
so I had to fold it so I don’t hurt when I sleep. The mattress was very filthy.
They would not allow me to use the phone. When I came back, my parents said ‘you never called us. You could have died’.
The woman started hitting me and said: “you did not come here to get sick.” She called her sister-in-law who came over and they stripped me naked and beat me with plastic hangers. The construction workers could hear me screaming from outside but couldn’t help. When the husband came back he took me to the room and raped me anally. After he finished raping me, they took me to the brother’s house and the next day they put me on a flight back to Tanzania. They took the money I earned, and only gave my passport back. They just left me at the airport. I was scared, traumatized, and didn’t know who to speak to.
As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch