Latest modern slavery fight updates -

Migrant domestic workers trafficked and abused in Oman

  • Published on
    September 6, 2022
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery
Hero Banner

A new report has exposed how women from Sierra Leone have been trafficked into domestic work in Oman and trapped in abusive private households while the authorities fail to protect victims.

Widespread abuse & exploitation

Do Bold, an organization supporting migrant workers in Gulf states, interviewed 469 domestic workers from Sierra Leone working in Oman over a two-year period. All but one of these women said they experienced trafficking and forced labor.

The women who were interviewed reported being tricked into domestic work in Oman by unscrupulous recruiters. Some of the women said they thought they were traveling to the country to work in hospitality, while others were under the impression that they would be studying abroad. 

Kafala system in Oman

Work relations between migrant domestic workers in Oman and their employers are governed by the kafala system which ties workers’ immigration status to their employer. This is widely acknowledged as being a driver of exploitation and trafficking by perpetuating a power imbalance to the detriment of low-paid migrant workers.

Breaking an employment contract by fleeing an abusive employer can lead to being jailed. As the Guardian reports, the fear of arrest and deportation prevented victims of trafficking and abuse from seeking support from authorities. 

The Guardian reports:

Adama*, a domestic worker in her 20’s, said she called the Omani police earlier this year after months of physical abuse by her employers, and provided evidence of injuries sustained by being regularly flogged. […] Adama said that the police visited her at her employer’s home and spoke to the household, but then left without her. As a punishment, she says her employers locked her in a room without food.

Founder and director of Do Bold, Ekaterina Porras Sivolobova, said: “For each woman we interviewed, it is a crisis that is significantly affecting their health and wellbeing. It begs the question of what needs to be done to solve this issue.”

Do Bold’s report highlights how an overwhelming 99 percent of those interviewed had never had a day off and 91 percent reported their freedom being impacted, including the confiscation of passports.

The Freedom United community is calling on all governments to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention (C189), the first international standard that places obligations on states to protect domestic workers from exploitation and abuse. Sign the petition today and call on your country to stand with domestic workers.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Despite global pressure, cobalt mining still tainted by forced child labor

Cobalt is a mineral mined mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is critical to the battery technology used in things like electric vehicles and cell phones. But dubious ethics and exploitative labor practices, particularly the use of child labor, continue to haunt the sector according to an article in Wards 100. More must be done to keep children safe. Children working like Gold Rush miners Despite efforts to find a replacement for this

| Tuesday July 16, 2024

Read more