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Fri 18 Oct 2013 10:15 AM

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95,000 people 'enslaved' in Gulf states, says charity

Majority of those living in slavery in region are in Saudi Arabia, according to Walk Free Foundation

95,000 people 'enslaved' in Gulf states, says charity
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Nearly 100,000 people are living in slavery across the Gulf, according to a new global index by charity Walk Free Foundation.

A total of 95,411 people living in the region are "enslaved", a majority of which are in Saudi Arabia (57,504), noted the index which ranked 162 countries on the number living in slavery, the risk of enslavement, and the strength of government responses to combating the illegal activity.

Saudi Arabia was the worst offender in the Gulf, ranked 82nd while the UAE (18,713) was placed 88th, Bahrain (2,679) and Qatar (4,168) were ranked equal 96th, Oman (5,739) was three places lower with Kuwait (6,608) in 100th place.

Globally, nearly 30 million people are living in slavery across the globe, many of them men, women and children trafficked by gangs for sex work and unskilled labour, according to the index.

It found that 10 countries accounted for 76 percent of the 29.8 million people living in slavery - India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Modern slavery was defined as human trafficking, forced labour, and practices such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and the sale or exploitation of children.

Earlier this year, the United Nations International Labour Organisation said as many as 600,000 migrants workers were tricked and trapped into forced labour across the Middle East.

About 94 percent of workers In Qatar are migrants, while in Saudi Arabia it's 50 percent, according to the ILO. It is also estimated that there are over 2 million migrant domestic workers in the Middle East

In the Middle East, the ILO calculated that 3.4 in every 1,000 of the region’s inhabitants are compelled to work against their free choice.

According to the US Department of State’s annual review, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are still among the worst countries for human trafficking and are not making any significant efforts to improve.

The UAE, Qatar and Oman also do not fully comply with the minimum standards for combating human trafficking, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, it said, adding that while Bahrain has some measures in place, it has not stepped up its efforts in recent years and the number of people forced into labour in the country remains significantly high.

The Gulf states were identified as being key markets for men and women who voluntarily travel from Asian and African countries such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, Burma, as domestic workers or low-skilled labourers.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Nezaud 6 years ago

I strongly believe the Walk Free Foundation has hidden agenda behind these stupid accusations of the Gulf states. In there report, they claim the so called slaves travel voluntarily to the gulf ??? If they do, then they are no longer slaves.
Anyway, if they look closely to home (there home that is) there are selves of different kind in there own streets, and back yards.

GEORGE JOHN 6 years ago

I STRONGLY OPPOSE THE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES, AS THEY ARE THE ONE WHO IS
GIVING OPPORTUNITIES TO MILLIONS OF WORKERS TO WORK AND TO STAY A VERY DECENT LIFE WHICH WE CANNOT DREAM IN OUR OWN COUNTRY. GCC COUNTRIES ARE PROVIDING THEM A VERY SECCURE LIFE, VERY GOOD EDUCATION FOR EXPATRIATE CHILDRENS. ONLY BECAUSE OF THE KIND HEARTED DEEDS OF GCC COUNTRY RULERS AND CITIZENS MILLIONS OF PEOPLES ARE SURVIVING ALL OVER THE WORLD. ALL THOSE WHO ARE ACCUSING THEM SHOULD SHOW THESE MILLIONS OF EXPATRIATES AN ALTERNATIVE FIRST AND POINT THEIR FINGER AGAINST THE GCC COUNTRIES. BUT WE SHOULD CONSIDER THAT IN EVERY SOCIETY THERE IS GOOD AND BAD PEOPLES AND IT IS VERY NEGLIGIBLE HERE IN GCC COUNTRIES WHEN WE ARE COMPARING WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. THIS ACCUSATIONS ARE ONLY BY SOME VESTED INTEREST TO SHIFT THE VOLLEY BALL VENUE FROM QATAR AND WORLD EXPO FROM DUBAI.

Lee 6 years ago

Very funny. Some people may not understand that you're kidding and may think you're an idiot. You don't mean what you said, right?

Lee 6 years ago

Ignorance is bliss.

peter peter 6 years ago

I think is it important that on such grave issues one does not become emotional.

George, of course we are grateful for the opportunity to come and make a life here. Neuzad , of course they come voluntarily and a majority of us are better off for having come here.

Let us however not close our eyes to what IS also happening here. Many come voluntarily but get caught up in circumstances due to which they are enslaved. They are promised a lot back home but get a lot less once they arrive here. They are stuck for a variety of reasons and not free to go back . Is that slavery ?

Take the taxi drivers of Dubai for example. Do you know that apparently they do not come under UAE Labor laws which restrict working hours to 48 per week. Most drivers put in 12 hours daily , some even more. Many drivers have told me they do not get a single day off from work. Is that slavery ?

So open your eyes and look for other forms of slavery around you. You may be surprised at what you find.

natmus saquib 6 years ago

Accusing gulf states of slavery is utter fault.there are many of like us who support our beloved ones from here. we com here by our will. there is good and bad in every society. not 5 fingers of hands are equal. talking about slavery what about Palestinians who are under the oppression of Israelis their life is same as slaves. why can't these people think about them

Abdul Jaleel 6 years ago

Dear All, First of we should define the word slavery or what is slavery? Then identify the non compliance. I think many of us have the freedom to chose what is good and what is bad. If you talk about the slavery 50% of 30 million are in India and the rest only is in other areas. There are good and bad in every areas and what I believe the methodology of analyze is many not be right. I think if the report can add the identifying mechanism or method of analysis it may/will give more credibility of this report.

kumdhar 6 years ago

You are correct, Peter.
I speak sometimes to cleaners(who met at the malls and from my home country). Some are brought here for some other decent job (as a Sales Person at a Supermaket/Hypermarket or so...) by signing the agreements and when they landed here, they ended up as Toilet Cleaners.
They cannot go back as they have to pay back the VISA and ticket fees back to the Co.
Is that slavery ?

Captcha 6 years ago

@GEORGE JOHN: I can see your text is translated using Google translate from Arabic to English...:)

SAM 6 years ago

A very specific number of slaves in the region quoted by the charity; 95,411 slaves to be exact. With such an accurate number, this charity must know the names, nationalities and locations of these slaves. I suggest this charity publish the names and addresses of these slaves and their owners, while the U.N. attempt a rescue operation with support from forces from slave-nations. They may call it operation "Bring Our Slaves Back Home". How did these slaves end up in these countries should be the focal point of any serious investigation of this matter and a clear definition of slave be made available; I am sure many will be surprised to find that this definition actually include them. Some contributor posted that taxi drivers in Dubai are slaves; Kunta Kinte indeed.