Oman – A Nation That Mercilessly Practices Slavery and Human Trafficking.

Slavery in Oman
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Oman President Dies after Enslaving Ugandans for several years

Oman’s leader, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, died at 79 on Friday, January 10, 2020, the 14th of Jumada Al-Ula. He died at a time when several Ugandans are dying in Oman. 

The irony is, most Middle East Countries always have job vacancies for foreigners. Each year, the Middle East always has jobs. One wonders why the jobs advertised in those countries are lowly. They don’t employ their fellow citizens for those lowly jobs. Instead, the labor recruiters cajole foreigners into working in the Middle East.

Several people in Oman, trade citizens of other countries as slaves, under the guise of labor exportation. Even now, many Oman natives still trap citizens of different countries in slavery. 

Indonesians fighting for their rights against labor exploitation
Protect each other from human trafficking. Photo credit: Pexels

In this case, labor recruiters sell Ugandans, promising them lucrative jobs in Oman. The late Sultan of Oman never lifted a finger to stop this slavery.

Here is a confession from one of the many Ugandans who suffered in Oman at the claws of slavery. Fortunately, she managed to escape from Oman, and this is her story.

Life in Oman and betrayal by fellow Africans

Sarah, 28, had struggled to get a job in 2018. The contract between her husband and Airtel had expired. A friend introduced her to the possibility of working in a foreign country. She linked her to Kalule, a man who finds low-cost work for people in the Middle East.

An Ethiopian house maid in Lebanon
House maids suffer in the Middle East. Photo Credit: AP

Kalule told Sarah to pay UGX 840,000 ($225) in total, to meet “all the requirements.” She never wanted to serve as a maid. In the Middle East countries, housemaids are suffering a lot. Kalule told her that she’d work in a restaurant. Sarah’s mother secured a savings group loan and gave the money to Sarah.

She went to Nairobi, Kenya, where she would board a plane to the Middle East. She had no doubts and didn’t question why they were using Nairobi airport and not Entebbe.

In Kenya, Sarah found 30 women from Uganda and Kenya in a vast warehouse, who were on their way to the Middle East as well. A week later, Sarah and the other girls left Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for Oman. 

At the airport in Oman, an Egyptian woman met Sarah. She took her to a city office and offered her a signed document. She was to serve for two years as a housemaid in Oman with a monthly salary of UGX 700,000 ($195). Her boss held onto her passport to ensure she didn’t escape. Sarah told the lady that she wasn’t there to serve as a maid but as a hotel waitress.

The Egyptian woman said she should reimburse UGX 6,000,000 ($1670) if she did not want to work as a maid. Sarah didn’t have that amount of money. Therefore, she decided to stay and work. The Egyptian lady called a certain man to come and pick Sarah up.

Three Months of Slavery

Sarah’s new boss took her to his home, a three-floor mansion. To her dismay, she was the only maid in such a huge mansion. Her boss gave her a quick orientation around the house and told Sarah of her duties. Her employer needed her to clean the house and take care of six young children, the youngest being six. “He had a bakery, and I had to cook the food they sold there,” Sarah said.

Around 4 a.m. every morning, Sarah would wake up. After the whole day on her feet, Sarah would go back to bed by 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. There was no time to relax because it was back-to-back chores. Sarah asked her employer for her salary at the end of the first month, but he refused to pay her. She rambled on for the second month until she became seriously ill.

Violence against women
Employers break their employees physically and mentally. Photo credit: Pixabay

Sarah was in excruciating pain that urine would flow through her at all times. She begged her employer to take her to the hospital or give her money for treatment but in vain. “My legs swelled, my back and chest started hurting,” Sarah recalled. She then asked her boss to take her back to the immigration office if they didn’t want to treat or pay her. Sarah’s condition further worsened. She was vomiting blood.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s employer never allowed her to rest. “Have you come to sleep here?” He yelled at her to get up and work. Pulling her ear, he forced her on her knees and off the bed. Poor Sarah begged him not to beat her; instead, send her back to Uganda. As he left, he said: “I will do to you what I did to the Filipino.”

The next morning, Sarah decided to run away to save her life. She hadn’t slept that night, fearing what he could do to her.

The suffering of Natives from other Countries in Oman.

They didn’t want to listen to Sarah in the office. They told her to return to work since her contract had not yet expired. She tried to return to Uganda as she was nearly dead.

The Egyptian woman took off her shoe and hit Sarah’s head with a sharp heel. She knew Sarah was ill but cared not. She told her to call home in Uganda and asked her family to give her money her sponsor had spent on her. Her Oman boss said Sarah had to pay all his money, only then would he release her passport. One wonders what amount Sarah owed her boss, who was not paying her.

Sarah called her husband, who promised to try and get the money as soon as possible. The Egyptian lady put her in a two-story, massive holding above the office. There were more than thirty women who had also escaped from their jobs. There she found Ugandans, Kenyans, Nigerians, Filipinos, and Indians.

Many are in confinement in Oman
Let your voices be heard. Many women are sexually abused in Oman. Photo Credit: Kat Jayne, Pexels.

They all waited for their families to send cash and air tickets. Everything Sarah witnessed in that room will be branded upon her mind forever. “An Oman boss of one Ugandan girl had beaten her so badly that her back and shoulders had wire marks,” Sarah cried as she narrated. Some girls had been working for bosses who were raping them. Other girls had bosses who were burning them with flat irons, and they scorched their skin.

One Filipino had worked for four months without a penny. “I’ve seen violence abroad, and I would never want anyone to face it,” Sarah lamented. A certain Nigerian girl locked in a house for months had no flesh on her butt due to too much whipping. Another Ugandan was bleeding from a C-section incision due to heavy work.

Leaving Oman after Five months of Confinement.

“Never in my life had I seen lice or bed bugs until I went to Oman,” Sarah narrated with repugnance. They slept on the floor for five months, and could not go out. While the Egyptian confined these ladies in that room, they cut their clothes to use as sanitary pads. Sarah’s health deteriorated due to no treatment and poor living conditions, leaving her entire left side paralyzed. She was at the mercy of the other girls. 

Confined in rooms above Immigration offices
Many natives of different countries are suffering in Oman. Photo credit: Upsplash

“One of the ladies from the Philippines had a phone we used to connect with our relatives. I often spoke to my husband. He told me he was looking for money. He had been seeking help from good Samaritans, NGOs, and TV stations,” recounted Sarah.

The Egyptian woman confiscated the confined ladies’ phone, which they used to communicate with their families. Finally, Sarah was allowed to speak with her brother-in-law, Alex, in Uganda, who later settled all the dues. She was joyful and relieved to find out the next day she would go home.

As Sarah left for the airport the following morning, three more girls had just arrived at the office. The Egyptian woman was beating them as she led them to the confinement room upstairs. 

Alex and her husband met Sarah at Entebbe airport in Uganda. She was unrecognizable. They took her to a hospital, where doctors treated her for three weeks. However, her chest still hurts whenever she does strenuous work. “I am thrilled that I am at home. I did not come back with any money, but I am glad to be alive,” Sarah says, smiling.

The counselors at ‘Make a Child Smile Foundation,’ counseled Sarah. She, too, advises other ladies who return home to Uganda. Some come with the physical and psychological trauma they have suffered in the hands of their bosses.

Now that she is well, Sarah wants to start a business selling shoes and clothes.

 

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