Monrovia – A group of Liberian women, subjected to modern-day slavery in Oman are begging the Liberian Government to intervene as quickly as possible to bring them home.
FrontPage Africa has gathered that the women are being subjected to all forms of human rights abuse including sexual abuse and torture.
“The office Agent by the name of Mousa, brings in people saying that they are Police after every three days and beat on them. They are now bleeding seriously from their Anus. Esther and Josephine are in the same office awaiting for Government to buy them plane tickets to get back home,” an advocate, seeking anonymity explained the plights of the women to FrontPage Africa.
Oman: Home of Modern Day Slavery?
Oman has been a destination for several migrants from Africa and South-East Asia escaping poverty. These migrants, predominantly women go against all odds to get to Oman with the promise of stable employment opportunity in local households.
Upon arrival, their nightmares begin as new employers often seize their passports so that they cannot depart when they want, ultimately, denying them their freedom of movement.
They are subjected to excessive working hours, sleep deprivation and starvation. Many suffer from verbal or sexual abuse.
All too often, the money they work so hard for is denied them. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, a great number of female migrant domestic workers fall prey to such abusive employment, and become Oman’s modern-day slaves.
The country’s visa sponsorship system, known as kafala, as well as the absence of labor law protections for domestic workers make migrant workers highly vulnerable to exploitation.
The kafala creates an “unbreakable” tie between the migrant worker and their employer, which means that the migrant worker’s visa is directly conditioned by the employer. This prohibits migrant workers from switching jobs, even if they face abuse at their workplace.
Families in Oman acquire their services through recruitment companies, employing them to take care of their children, cook meals, and clean their homes.
The recruitment companies typically ask for a fee to be paid for the mediation, and several migrant workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that their employers demanded they pay them back the recruitment fee in order to be released from their service.
Among the groups of people facing these horrors are several Liberian women.
Josephine F. Lamie and Esther Sia Brima are being subjected to all forms of maltreatment by their employers. FPA gathered that in order to grant their request of quitting their jobs and return home, Larmie and Brima were asked to pay US$1,500 each as the expensive in hiring them which they did. However, there is no money to purchase their plane tickets. They are still held by their employers and undergoing all forms of torture and abuse.
“When I spoked to Mousa, he said once they misbehave, he will beat on them till they can get their tickets to go back home. Now, has turned off the lights for two weeks. No food and they are only surviving on bathroom water. That’s the usual treatment all Liberians get in Oman when they locked them up,” the advocate, confiding this to FPA said.
Another Liberian, Linda Farsu is currently held by her masters. She was allegedly raped, but the abuser does not considered it a crime in Oman since she was allegedly penetrated with her abuser’s hands. To let her go, they are demanding her to pay US$2,000. If she pays, she would still need additional money to buy plane ticket.
Hellen Diakpor and Hannah M. Juwle are facing the same fate as Farsu. They all work for the same agent. Hellen is an operation patient. She feared that the maltreatment meted against her will lead to serious health problems. They are all living on the edge waiting for a miracle to happen.
Another Liberian, Diana Karmoh has paid her employer the recruitment expenses and awaiting a plane ticket to come back home. According to the advocate, “They have given her Thursday as deadline to get her ticket and come back home, else she will be thrown out of their office. they warned if anything happens to her, they are not responsible.”
Like Diana, Elizabeth Sengbo has paid her office expensive but she needs money to purchase her plane ticket to come to Liberia. She has been thrown out of her employers’ house and is currently sleeping on porches and starving. “She goes hungry all day as she does not have money to buy food. There is a likelihood of her going back to her tormentors if she does not find help.”
The other two Liberians, Hawa Siryon and Princess Sehzue are said to be undergoing severe treatments at the office where they are locked up.
“They feed them with bread and water one time a day. I send money to the office for them to get food, but since July 25, 2022 till now, the office refused to give them the money. Now as we speak, they have turned off the electricity and they are now calling for safety because of the heat they are in,” the whistleblower said.
Government Takes Step
The plight of the Liberian women in Oman took center stage at this year’s cabinet retreat convened by President George Weah in Ganta, Nimba County.
To address the woeful treatment of Liberian nationals who have left the country to seek greener pastures abroad, the Liberian Government, at the cabinet retreat in July, designated four senior officials to travel to the Republic of Oman and other parts of Asia to negotiate for the return of these distressed Liberians.
They include the Minister of Foreign Affairs D. Maxwell Saah Kamayah, Minister of Labor Cllr. Charles Gibson, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Wilhelmina Piso Saydee-Tarr and Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean.
Labor Minister Gibson, who also serves as the Chairman of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia told reporters that an agreement has been reached between the Governments of Liberia and Oman through their respective Labor Ministries to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to regulate the status of Liberian citizens in that country.
The Liberian Labor Minister explained that the Government’s pending trip to Oman and other parts of Asia came about doing their visit to Geneva where several African countries alarmed over Oman’s bad labor practice and woeful human trafficking record.
He noted that after the convention, the Omani Government approached the Government of Liberia to have a dialogue in order to address the issue, and requested a zoom meeting before leaving to Oman for a roundtable dialogue.
Gender Minister Saydee-Tarr revealed that the government of Liberia has repatriated over 35 women from Oman and pledged the government’s commitment to bring back home all those that are stranded in that Asian country.