It’s shocking to find out that even in London, under our noses, diplomats are trafficking domestic staff to work in the embassies.
Kalayaan, a charity working with migrant domestic workers, referred 13 cases of trafficked individuals to the UK Human Trafficking Centre. 6 worked for Saudi and Emirati diplomats and one for the South African high commission. Five of the workers were Indonesian and four were Filipino, while others came from Africa, the Middle East and other parts of Asia.
It has emerged that these workers were kept under house arrest; they were not paid and were abused physically and sexually by their ‘employers’. Their passports were taken off them and they were threatened if they tried to run away. Many of these domestic workers were deceived about their work conditions, and came expecting a completely different life- as you would if you knew you were going to work at an embassy.
A woman who came to work as a nanny for a diplomat says she was forced to work 17-hour days doing all the cooking and cleaning as well as the nanny work without a day off or pay. She was also violently beaten by the diplomat and his wife and was not allowed to leave the house except to buy milk.
There is a specific domestic worker visa programme for diplomats that does not allow individuals to seek employment elsewhere, often making it much easier for them to be hidden away and their suffering to go unnoticed. To add to this, diplomats and senior government figures who claim diplomatic status are not prosecuted in the UK.
Charities are now campaigning to allow domestic workers of diplomats to search for alternative employment as it might be their only way of asking for help and being rescued from the slave-like conditions in which they’re living.
Community Action through awareness raising is key to fighting human trafficking. If we know what is happening around us, if we can see the signs and know what they mean- we can report cases and help people like these domestic workers who were deceived and who are facing a life of slavery.
Find out how you can recognise the signs of trafficking and promote awareness to help people in your community on www.stopthetraffik.org.