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.
Najma travelled to Oman through an agency where she was forced to work for an employer who sexually assaulted her. After leaving this employer, she was kept in the agency’s office and beaten until she agreed to work for a new employer.
[Before she left for Oman Najma spent 2 weeks with the agent and a woman, and five other domestic workers]
Doing work in the house for free. They say they are watching over you to see if you can make it.
The first time I reached Oman, I didn’t have any contact with the agent. He told me to call him if there are any problems, but he didn’t give me his number. Luckily, I met a girl who had the same agent in Dar [es Salaam] who gave me the agent’s number in Oman
[After leaving her employer who sexually assaulted her, Najma spent a week in the Oman agency office where she was beaten until she agreed to work for a new employer]
The agent slapped my fingers with a ruler once in the morning, every day. Others were given punishment to stand all day long—from the time the office is open until it closed. If she sees other clients come, she will tell them to go aside and then come back and continued the punishment.
As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch