The Statesman | 5 November 2018

Paid to be a slave Part 1

Why are people still paying agencies and looking for a “better life” in other countries?

The Gulf states are rich, very rich. Per-capita income is higher in that region than in most parts of the world. Yet all of these countries, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, have more foreigners as workers and residents than citizens.

They then recruit housemaids and other domestic staff from abroad, mainly from poor countries in Africa, the Asian subcontinent and the Far East. Payments made to such workers in the UAE are meagre or nothing compared to the labour they offer. But the same amount paid to a housemaid in Ghana would seem huge, even to the average Ghanaian in a white-collar job.

Another reason for the increased demand for housemaids from Ghana is the ban placed by many countries on their citizens working in the Gulf and other parts of the Middle East. Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Uganda and countless other countries have placed a total ban on their citizens working in all or most of the Gulf countries because of maltreatment and abuses over the past five years. This has resulted in a huge shortage of maids, mainly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where most of the abuses are reported.



The Statesman | 10 November 2018

Paid to be a slave Part 2

Immediately after we arrived, my agent in the country spotted me and took me to the agency. There my passport and phone were taken from me. He said it was to ensure I never ran away and make sure I did my job properly, and after settling my debt I would get them back.

After waiting, the family I was assigned to came for me and took me to their home.

I was sent to a poorly ventilated and filthy room with no bed. This was supposed to be where I would sleep. The next day, I started working tirelessly.

The people were very dirty and they didn’t care about our personal hygiene. [They said the house helps used too much water.] I had to wake up at dawn to take my bath while they were going to pray.



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