Inderjeet Singh, an Indian national aged 26, originally from Haryana travelled to Saudi Arabia to work as a driver at a construction firm some seven months ago.
A few days ago, Inderjeet was brutally assaulted by his Saudi employer who used a belt to horse whip him because he asked for his overdue income in order to buy food. Inderjeet explained that he has not been paid for over three months and he has been living on the generosity of his fellow compatriots who have shared their food with him.
Inderjeet lives in constant fear of further attacks by his psychopathic employer. He is now desperate to return to his family in India.
Unfortunately, Inderjeet’s case is one of many Indian economic migrants traveling to the Gulf countries who end up subjected to horrendous mental and physical abuse.
Inderjeet and other work migrants are exploited and abused several times right from the outset of their journey in the hope of finding a better life; firstly, by the Governments of Haryana and Punjab for failing to invest in their youth andcreate employment and training opportunities for their citizens. Unless the governments are forced to address corruption and maladministration, and unless they invest in and value their youth, migrant workers will continue to be abused.
Secondly, the economic migrants are exploited at the hands of unregulated and unprofessional ’employment agents’ who are solely motivated in securing the commission for the posts. It appears anyone can claim to be an ‘agent’ and they can demand arbitrary amounts of commission. Many young men often educated and semi skilled forced by the lack of employment opportunities in their home States to look abroad where the perception of opportunities and earning power is enticing. Often, the families of these men sell all or part of their land to pay the commission to these ‘agents’. The gamble is to recoup the commission through their earning power abroad.
Thirdly, these migrants in their desperation to leave India and take up these posts fail to do their own research into the posts, their living conditions and importantly into their legal rights and obligations in foreign countries. There does not seem any information provided by the Indian authorities to forewarn them of the possible difficulties they are likely to encounter working abroad.
More often the agents end up providing the migrant workers with inappropriate visas. There has been a number of cases where Indian male work migrants who are skilled or semi skilled have applied for visas to work as truck drivers, crane operatives however, they allocated agricultural visas with the promise that once the destination, usually in the gulf countries they will have no problem in finding a post suited to their skills. However, the reality is that they are forcefully employed for example, as camel herders in countries like Saudi Arabia. There has been a number of Indian female workers who have acquired ‘domestic worker’ visas without comprehension of the implications of the same. Their ‘agents’ in India assure them that despite the nature of the domestic worker visas, they will be able to readily acquire suitable employment. The reality of the situation is that once in the country, they are ‘sold’ (term used widely by the victims) to agents in the country of the arrival and have have no alternative but to work in domestic servitude where often they become subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse by their employers and agents. This is the common plight of Indian female migrant workers traveling for example, to Kuwait.
Fourthly, unlike the passports of migrants from the West, the passports of South East Asians in particular from India are mostly likely to be confiscated and retained by their employers upon their commencement of their employment. The Indian migrants struggle to secure the return of their passports from the employers so returning home is prevented. Many of the Indian migrants are prevented from returning home even cases of family emergencies and bereavements.
The Indian migrants as well as the Indian authorities fail to understand and acknowledge the unique position of passports; an individual’s passport is usually the property of the government of that issued it and the passport holder is entrusted with its safe keeping. Accordingly, an employer does not have the right to confiscate or retain it. The Indian authorities have repeatedly demonstrated their failure to challenge and demand that the foreign employers and their authorities return the passports to them. In the absence of any assertiveness by the Indian authorities means that the employers continue to abuse, confiscate and retain the passports of Indian nationals with impunity.
International human rights organisations as well as international workers unions are in the main powerless to do anything to help or intervene in these cases since they often do not have any representatives or any influence in the Gulf countries. This means that exploitation and abuse of human rights of migrant workers continues unabated.
The Indian Missions in the Gulf region are usually bereft of sympathy towards their fellow nationals seeking their help to be repatriated to India and are often dismissive of their plight. Often they lack the know how and training to address these cases. In Inderjeet’s case, despite being made aware of his brutal treatment at the hands of his employer, the local Indian Mission is advising him to pursue his case via the local ‘Labour Courts’. This is of course unreasonable since Inderjeet does not have the money or the time to pursue the case through a Labour Court; his life is being put at risk since if his employer was to find out that he had reported him to a Labour Court, he is very likely to take matters into his own hands. The Indian Mission has repeatedly been invited to intervene and remove the victim from imminent danger to a safe house whilst arrangements are made to secure the return of their passports and arrangements are secured to repatriate them.
There is a real need for an easy, effective and professional Consular service as well as the provision of legal advice. Staff at the Mission should receive regular training. Indian authorities need to be more assertive and protecting their nationals. Currently they fail to forcefully challenge and question the maltreatment of their nationals and/or take action.
Persecution and slavery in the Gulf:
Kuwaiti couple hammer 23 nails into Sri Lankan domestic employee after she asked for paymeny of her salary.
Maids in Jordan and Kuwait tortured with nails
Sri Lankan maid Indra Malkanthi forced to swallow 9 nails by her Lebanese employer
A Saudi couple beat and starved her Indonesian domestic employee, Nour Miyati, so brutally that she has her fingers and toes amputated. Miyati was locked up in the bathroom for a month while her masters went on holiday and was beaten daily and also underfed and starved. Her teeth were knocked out and eye injured when she asked for her salary (a paltry sum of $160 per month). The Saudi employer was not charged and Nour Miyati was due to be lashed 79 times for “false accusations”
Human Rights Watch article:
— “Her employers beat her daily and she had to work long hours without rest or pay. They withheld her passport, knocked out a tooth, and caused damage to one of her eyes. The abuse escalated after she tried to escape; her employers locked her in the workplace and denied her adequate food.”
— “This outrageous ruling sends a dangerous message to Saudi employers that they can beat domestic workers with impunity, and that victims have little hope of justice,”
–“Human Rights Watch has conducted research in Saudi Arabia showing that many domestic workers risk spurious counteraccusations of theft, witchcraft, and adultery if they try to bring charges of abuse against their employers.”
An Ethiopian maid died after she was forced to drink pesticide by the housewife and developed pneumonia due to her infected wounds. The housewife also forced her Filipino maid to drink Dettol when she did not like the way she cleaned the bathroom. She also beat her three maids with sticks while naked, banged their heads on walls, starved them and locked them up in the house. As this happened in the relatively liberal UAE, the housewife received a sentence.
An Indonesian maid in Kuwait was tortured for four years to such an extent that she became used to her brutal behavior. The maid suffered from a broken and deformed finger due to frequent torture, fractures in the teeth due to beating with a blunt object, bruises in the face, congestion in the eyes and the effects of a sharp object being inserted in her vagina in addition to wound scars on the head and different parts of her body. She tried to escape her torture but every time her employer left the house, she was locked inside a room with no windows
A maid from Madagascar was tortured for three years by her female Kuwaiti employer, who is a doctor. The maid was fed only bread and water for the whole last one and a half years, and had also been blinded in one eye by the beatings, as can be seen in the link below.
A Saudi woman throws boiling water onto a Filipino maid’s face and back because she did not make coffee quickly enough
Emirati woman pours hot oil over maid
Ethiopian maid beaten to death, dissolved with acidic chemicals and burnt in the desert
Emirati woman tortures Ethiopian maid to death with scalding water. She also rubbed pepper in her eyes and whipped her with electrical cables
Emirati woman pours hot coffee over maid
Filipino maid burnt and tortured with a hot iron 8 times in month by her Saudi employer
Filipino maid burnt with boiling water on her back, starved and did not receive her salary from her employer
A Bangladeshi maid said her employers gave her electric shocks, beat her with chains and leather belts and burnt her with hot irons over five months, during which she was also raped.
Filipino burnt with a hot iron by the employer’s mother. Another employer said “We bought you for 10,000 dirhams, so you don’t have the right to complain about starvation” Report by Human Rights Watch
Indonesian maids are beaten, raped, burnt, abused and enslaved in Saudi Arabia. Reports by Al-Jazeera News Channel:
Physical abuse is not the only abuse that maidservants suffer; they are at risk of violent sexual abuse too:
46 Saudis gang rape an Indonesian maid and give her AIDS
Nepali maid is bought and repeatedly gang raped by an entire family of Saudi men
9 Saudis gang rape another Indonesian maid
5 Saudis gang rape an Indonesian housemaid and dump her in carpark
8 men gang rape a Filipino housemaid until she bled heavily in Kuwait
Filipino woman gang raped by 12 Kuwaiti men
Nepalese woman gang raped in desert camp for 9 hours
Despairing Nepalese maid raped by duo, and dumped in desert
7 Kuwaitis kidnap and gang rape a Filipino maid
Filipino housemaid gang raped by 17 Kuwaiti men in desert camps
15 Arab youth assault and gang rape Nepalese woman
Male filipino migrant worker kidnapped, gang-raped at gunpoint in desert in Kuwait
Filipino male gang-raped by 5 Saudi men, cannot pay his medical bills
Kuwait lance corporal kidnaps a Filipina maid, rapes her and stabs her repeatedly in the neck
Kuwaiti officer targets runaway Asian domestic workers to rape
Sri Lankan maid followed, kidnapped and gang-raped in Kuwait
‘Man gets a new maid and rapes her’:
Suicidal Filipina maid repeatedly raped by her Kuwaiti sponsor
Kuwait- Sponsor Rapes Filipina Maid at knifepoint, Threatens To Kill Her
Escape from slavery: Ugandan maid tells of her ordeal in Kuwait being tortured and sodomized
Ethiopian maid violently raped in Kuwait and left bleeding heavily
Ethiopian maid raped to “discipline” her
Suicidal Filipina maid repeatedly raped by her master
Nepalese worker raped repeatedly by sponsor’s son, pushed out the top-floor balcony and is eventually forced to go back to work in the sponsor’s house. She commits suicide in hospital before having to go back.
Emirati employer accused of repeatedly raping maid 14 times
Man accused of raping maid is spared jail even if his DNA / semen was on the maid’s underwear because his “wife was much prettier”
Qatari employer rapes a 17-year old Filipina on her first day at work, another maid is brutally murdered with knocked out teeth, 40+ bruises, stab marks
Asian housemaid gang raped until she bled and became unconscious
“They kept raping her until she fainted and collapsed”
Indonesian maid brutally raped in Saudi Arabia
Filipino maid raped multiple times, starved and tortured by a Saudi couple
Raped, Impregnated and Imprisoned: maids are subject to emotional and physical violence, withholding of payment and sexual assault. Women raped by their employers who then fall pregnant are imprisoned for having sex outside of marriage; 5 Nepalese women a month are arrested for pregnancy out of marriage in Qatar.
These abuses are inflicted on all nationalities of housemaids in all Gulf states with complete impunity due to the kafala system and little care for the rights of migrant workers. Africans are at particular risk of abuse.
A Kenyan woman was thrown out of a third floor window by her Saudi employer, breaking her legs and hands. Another maid had to live on dog food because her employers neither fed her nor allowed her out of the house. She came back with broken limbs and stories of near-slavery in Saudi Arabia
“Mom, yesterday my boss asked me if I want to be sold or not. I fear he might kill me. If it is God’s plan that I die in Saudi Arabia, there is nothing I can do. Bye mom” The Kenyan maid has not been heard from since.
Modern day slavery in Saudi Arabia of Kenyans
Kenyans are subject to “ sexual assault; overwork with no pay, torture, lack of privacy and starvation. Chilling murders sum it all, with the recent discovery of a body of a Kenyan girl locked up in a freezer..” “My boss’ family locked me in at all times and forced me to work while stark naked to ensure I neither escaped nor stole anything in the house”
African slavery: the Gulf’s new disposable workforce
Kenyan maids in Saudi Arabia brutally beaten, tortured, starved, heads hit on walls, forced to work while sick in forced labor
Ghanian girls sold to slavery in Kuwait, forced to work 20+ hours and when one girl fell sick, she was locked in a room without food or water for 3 days by the housewife. The husband later tried to force her into bed
Slavery of Ghanaians in Lebanon: “… teacher canes her maid’s palms till the skin breaks and has to resume work right afterwards. He also reported how his teacher’s maid sleeps on the kitchen floor with no comforter while she, the schoolteacher has four bedrooms, no children nor husband.”
“African slavery exists in Saudi Arabia”
“Some families decided to open the coffin and found that the girl didn’t have eyes”
Solange left Madagascar for Saudi Arabia in 2013 but in less than a year she was dead. 20 year old Annick said “They treated me like a slave, like a dog. My boss told me: ‘You domestic workers are rubbish to us,'” “My boss threw Clorox and acid in my eyes,” “I told his wife that I needed to go to hospital, but she wouldn’t let me and told me to work whether I liked it or not, sick or not,” Nirina told AFP. “I started work at 6:00 am, had lunch at 3:00 pm and went to bed only at 2:00 am.”
A Saudi family hangs an Ethiopian maid from a hook and beats her mercilessly
Ethiopian maid enslaved for 15 years in Bahrain
Indian woman enslaved for 16 years in Saudi Arabia
Sri Lankan housemaid was enslaved and not paid her salary for 17 years
Indian woman enslaved and refused her salary for 6 years. The employer has to this very date, not paid the remaining salary.
The Indian woman sold to a sheikh
“I paid for this woman and I will take her.” Indian women enslaved in Kuwait, treated like animals and can be beaten so brutally they lose their minds.
Sri Lankan maid was severely beaten by the Kuwaiti housewife, held against her will and not paid her salary for seventeen months. “I could not bear the daily beatings, hunger and other abuse she inflicted on me. I survived on water and a little left over scrap food. My female employer made me strip naked and forced me to take cold showers on several occasions after beating me, and the pain was unbearable,
Indian workers sold like animals in Saudi Arabia
Indians sold as slaves in Saudi Arabia
Nepali maid was trafficked, repeatedly sold, starved, enslaved and sexually abused. Her female Saudi employer also stole her money and belongings before sending her home.
Nepali maid’s employer and his wife beat her brutally and when the family was out, the employer beat her up and raped her. 2-3 coffins of Nepali maids and workers coming back daily from Saudi Arabia
An Indian housemaid in Qatar, whose husband was the family driver said, “When my husband, asked for our salary, the sponsor not only beat him in front of me but asked me to sleep with him,”
“When I requested my full salary, they started beating me,” says Lakshmi, a Sri Lankan woman who is now 23. “They bit me on my arms. It left marks.” Her Kuwaiti employers—who, to stop her salary complaints, withheld food and water to the point where she fainted—became more violent. One day, her employer pushed her out a large open window. Lakshmi fell two stories.
A female Kuwaiti employer burnt her Sri Lankan maid on the neck and the wrist with an iron, and was kept in a storeroom for 2 days without any food or water because the maid burnt a dress. She slowly reduced the amount of food the maid ate and beat her if she was not happy with the house
Some maids were forced to work for 18 hours a day, others were starved despite having rich employers. ‘Fay’, a Filipino maid, ate rotten fruit and four-day-old leftovers rather than suffer the anger of her employer. Rekha a girl from Nepal was fed only a small bit of cheese each day.
A Saudi man whips and beats his servant because he spoke to his wife
A Filipina maid was sold 11 times to different Saudi employers and was beaten black and blue and put in hospital by Saudi employers.”Slave maids cost the price of a smart phone”
A Filipino maid is tortured for 3 years in UAE; her head was banged repeatedly on a wall and she was beaten with dustpans and brooms until her head was swollen if she asked for her salary, which she never received. “I had never been out of the house till police came to rescue me.” “Though I felt dizzy and my stomach hurt, I had to work.”
Kuwaiti couple beat and torture Filipina maid and crush her body with a car
A Filipino maid in Qatar was frequently assaulted and beaten, tied to a chair to prevent her escaping and was denied food and starved. She was then beaten to death by her female employer after her son complained of mistreatment. She was starved to such an extent that by her end, she weight a pitiful 39kg.
An Indonesian maid was beaten for 90 minutes by her master’s son because “he refused to let her return to her home country after she had finished her 2-year contract.”“He used to drink water in between and continued to beat me for some 90 minutes. Then he asked me to continue working.”
13 year old Filipina abused and tortured, suffers memory loss and failing health due to banging head on wall by Saudi employers
A Kuwaiti woman who beat a Filipina maid to death and buried her in the desert is acquitted
“She would beat me on the head. I always had severe headaches. She told me, ‘I can kill you; I can beat you. No one cares about you.'”
Two Indonesian maids beaten to death and two hospitalized by a Saudi family for “witchcraft”
A maid in Qatar was killed with 43 bruises, 2 stab wounds, a pool of blood, her teeth knocked out and with burns; her employer was jailed for 3 years
Over 40% of maids are verbally, sexually or physically abused. Kafala system amounts to forced labor or slavery
15-year old Kuwaiti boy kills Ethiopian maid with a dining table
15 year old Kuwaiti boy tortures an Ethiopian maid to death with a stick
Kuwaiti boy rapes an Indian maid
Even 11 year olds beat the maids
“As if I am not human”; abuses against domestic workers in Saudi Arabia
“My sleep is my break”: exploitation of domestic workers in Qatar
“Bad Dreams”: Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia
“Exported and Exposed” Abuses against Sri Lankan Domestic Workers
“Walls at every turn”: Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers through Kuwait’s Sponsorship System
Tricked and Trapped: Human Trafficking in the Middle East
“I already bought you” Abuse and Exploitation of Female Migrant Domestic Workers in the United Arab Emirates
The Condition of Overseas Filipino Workers in Saudi Arabia
Filipino domestic worker treated like a slave and starved until she got nosebleeds by a Kuwaiti diplomat in the US
Inside a Kuwaiti diplomat’s Manhattan duplex, she worked 20 hours a day, earning as little as $1 an hour, she was deprived of food and sleep:
Saudi princess enslaves Kenyan maid in Orange County CA
Saudi princess batters her Indonesian housekeeper and throws her down the stairs
Saudi princess enslaves and threatens 2 Indonesian maids in Winchester MA
Women enslaved by Arab royals in Brussels
UAE diplomat beats and enslaves Indonesian maid
UAE navy officer keeps a Filipino slave while in the United States.
Two domestic servants rescued from Saudi diplomat’s home after it was raided for human trafficking
Slavery in the US by Gulf diplomats
Saudi Family convicted of slavery of an Indonesian maid in Colorado.
UK domestic servants
UK domestic workers and modern day slavery in the UK
The slavery is commonly exported to various countries in the West:
According to the US Human Trafficking Report: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2012/192368.htm
“However, according to media and NGO sources abroad during the reporting period, an Indonesian domestic worker alleged that a Saudi diplomat working in Germany – her employer – had subjected her to forced labor and abuse. The victim alleged that she worked 18-hour days with no holidays, never received wages for her work, did not have access to her passport, and was physically and mentally abused”
“Another London-based worker, Divia, reveals how she was forced to sleep on the stone floor of her madam’s kitchen in the West End. She was fed so little her eyesight started to fail and she began to show symptoms of severe malnutrition. Her diet was entirely based on leftovers from the family table. “I was so thin I would faint with hunger. But I have heard stories worse than mine in Kalayaan. When I hear of young girls who work for Arabs in London swallowing acid it makes me depressed. I know that could have been me.”
According to Kalayaan, stories like Divia’s are not uncommon. In the past few weeks a domestic worker in Knightsbridge, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, attempted suicide after years of abuse by her employer. The woman, a Filipina, swallowed acid and is now permanently disabled.
Migrant workers are usually called “abeed” which means slave in Arabic.
Kuwait deports Ethiopians and prevents Ethiopians from working due to their “violent nature” and “criminal tendencies”
“My sleep is my break”: exploitation of domestic workers in Qatar
This is also done in the most popular and respected English-language Arab news outlets like Emirates247
“Saudi family rescued from sorceress”
“Departing maid leaves family under magic spell”
Maid held for committing sorcery
Maid accused of sorcery
Which makes the following less surprising:
Kuwaiti employer accuses Filipina maid of sorcery, tortures and beats her up
Pictures of abuse: http://www.arabtimesonline.com/Portals/0/Images/2014/may/30crime.jpg
Two Indonesian maids beaten to death and two hospitalized for “witchcraft”
Indonesian almost beheaded in Saudi Arabia for performing witchcraft
Sometimes even the liberal media in the region write op-eds that beggars belief considering the circumstances. Here is an article by the (relatively) liberal English-language Saudi Gazette seemingly defending slavery and preventing migrant workers from “escaping”. The comments section is also recommended reading