Revealed: allegations of abuse and captivity without Pay at UAE’s lucrative recruitment agencies. Nia’s horrifying experience in 2021 serves as a reminder of the reality that many migrant domestic workers in the UAE endure. Her arrival turned into a living hell when she found herself delivered to the Shamma Almahairi Domestic Workers Services Center upon reaching the UAE. There, Nia alleges that her passport and phone were confiscated, and she was confined to a squalid, overcrowded room with over a dozen other women. For three months, she languished in this desolation, jobless and without a single dirham to her name, reaching a point of unimaginable desperation.
In her own words, they were told that the agency was an extension of the government, a revelation that left them paralyzed by a sense of powerlessness. When an opportunity presented itself during a lunch break, Nia made the daring decision to reclaim control of her destiny and escape from her tormentors.
Revealed: allegations of abuse and captivity without Pay at UAE’s lucrative recruitment agencies
With a total population of 10.1 million, the UAE leans heavily on a workforce primarily composed of migrants, creating a high demand for domestic labor. This demand has, in turn, spawned a thriving industry for recruitment agencies. Although the UAE authorities claim there are strict conditions for licensing, deeply disturbing allegations have come to light regarding Shamma Almahairi, where migrant workers have been subjected to a series of abuses that include deprivation of necessities, physical assaults, and unlawful captivity.
Even more shocking is the revelation that during 2020 and 2021, a period when Shamma Almahairi held a valid license, six women from Kenya and Uganda, including Nia, have come forward to accuse the agency of subjecting them to unspeakable horrors. To safeguard their identities, pseudonyms have been utilized. Escape attempts, like Christina’s, have reportedly resulted in brutal and barbaric beatings, orchestrated by the manager.
Mercy, hailing from Kenya, boldly asserts that these beatings were not isolated incidents but, rather, were used as a form of intimidation. Even with the government’s belated revocation of Shamma Almahairi’s license in September, citing unpaid fines and a myriad of bureaucratic violations, reports are indicating that women are still being held captive within the agency’s confines.
Read the women’s stories here.