Hundreds of Sierra Leonean domestic workers in Oman victims of human trafficking: report
Do Bold, an organisation that works to support migrant workers in the Gulf states, interviewed 469 domestic workers from Sierra Leone working in Oman, and found that all but one were victims of human trafficking.
The report highlights the harsh realities of these migrant workers living and working in Oman.
Don't miss the launch of Do Bold's new report!— World Justice Project (@TheWJP) September 6, 2022
Do Bold was a World Justice Challenge finalist in the #AccesstoJustice category for their project Freedom for Our Sisters, focused on empowering Sierra Leonean female domestic workers trafficked & exploited in #Oman. https://t.co/uZBCxT2S4P
Most experienced deceptive recruitment tactics and worked between 16 and 20 hours a day with no days off, while more than half had experienced physical abuse.
A little over a quarter experienced sexual abuse, according to the report.
There are more than 158,000 documented migrant women who are employed by Oman’s domestic work sector, most of whom are from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Ethiopia.
The country’s domestic work sector is not well regulated, according to the report, and creates an imbalance of power entirely in favour of the employers - as is often the case under the kafala system used in many Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.
Access to the justice system for those who have been abused or otherwise subject to wrongdoing is usually beyond reach.
Meanwhile, the Liberian government has asked Oman to stop issuing work visas to Liberian women recruited by employment agencies for domestic jobs, and to allow a government delegation to visit the country, citing "slavery" and "human trafficking"— Portia Crowe (@PortiaCrowe) September 7, 2022
Do Bold’s report highlights the stories of multiple migrant workers, such as one woman called Mariama. She was convinced by a recruiter in Sierra Leone that she could earn a lot of money in Oman. She paid the agency $500 and obtained a passport that falsified her age.
She said that once she was in Oman, she worked 19 hours a day seven days a week, and was denied access to medical care when ill. When she complained to an agent that her life in Oman was not what was promised by the recruiter, she was beaten and locked in a room without food or water for a week.
Oman has established an International Labour Organisation Decent Work Country Programme for officials to receive assistance in protecting migrant workers.
It is unclear if domestic workers are prioritised in the programme, according to Do Bold, as there was no mention of them in the latest edition DWCP report.
The Do Bold report calls for "a system change from one where domestic workers do not have equal status as other workers in other sectors, and whose rights and human dignity are not protected or respected, to a system that allows domestic workers to earn a decent living with dignity and access to opportunities to thrive".
The New Arab has reached out to the Omani embassy in London for comment.