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Stories from Oman’s human trafficking corridor

  • Published on
    February 10, 2024
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking, Survivor Stories
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Fareeda’s story

Recruited to work as a domestic worker in Dubai, Fareeda, a 49-year-old woman from India was promised a monthly salary of AED 1,400 ($381) with free food and accommodation. Upon arrival, Fareeda’s passport and documents were confiscated, and it became clear that her recruiter, Shenaz, lied. After 21 days of hard labor, she became ill and needed hospitalization.

Imran, Fareeda’s husband, said,

“We told Shenaz we would pay for Fareeda’s tickets, and she seemed to agree. But Shenaz deceived her after that. She told Fareeda she was being sent to India, but instead trafficked her to Muscat by road.”

Fareeda begged the agent to send her back to Hyderabad, but she was instead trafficked to Muscat, Oman.  She continued to be exploited as her health deteriorated. Currently, Fareeda is taking shelter at the Indian embassy in Oman, waiting for her repatriation.

Pavana’s story

In a parallel incident, 24-year-old Pavana was promised employment in Dubai but, along with eight other women, ended up trafficked to Oman, where they were forced to work without pay.

“[Pavana] had made a video call to her brother after boarding the plane in Delhi on December 16 and after that there was no trace of her. On Tuesday, the family received a voice message from an unknown number from Oman, in which the girl said she and seven-eight other girls had been taken to Oman and their lives were in danger.” – a report from The Tribune.

Pavana now awaits repatriation at the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia.

The trafficking corridor

Migrant-Rights.org reports that Fareeda’s case gained national attention in India when her sister pleaded for her return in an interview with PTI News. However, Fareeda and Pavana’s stories are not rare. Oman is a hub for human trafficking from and through Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. The “trafficking corridor” extends to South Asian and African countries and has been extensively documented in recent years.

The labor laws in Oman create conditions that leave domestic workers particularly vulnerable to trafficking and abuse because they exclude domestic workers from any protection mechanisms. Consequently, the promise of work is often used as a lure for migrants, particularly women, to Oman.

Additionally, Oman’s authorities do not disclose the number of trafficking cases, and the 2023 U.S. Trafficking in Persons report reveals a lack of convictions for forced labor.

A call to action

As cases like Fareeda’s and Pavana’s highlight the dire situation faced by trafficked individuals in Oman, there is an urgent need for strengthened protection mechanisms, comprehensive regulations, and increased accountability to combat human trafficking and exploitation in the region. Join us in demanding that governments around the world do more to prevent human trafficking by ensuring safe migration.

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