KAMPALA – The promise of good jobs and better wages baits many women into investing in travelling to the Middle East to work. Because some get lucky and return with money, many Ugandans pay for job placements in the Middle East, and end up being trafficked as slaves and sex workers.
Our brave reporter made the journey into the world of human trafficking and ended up spending a month in slavery. She narrates her ordeal.
I had interacted with labour exporting companies for some time and was aware of the risks Ugandans go through travelling abroad to do odd jobs. But I had never imagined the real shock that slave trade in the modern world is. The irony of it all is that girls are trafficked at their own cost.
They pay for respectable jobs and discover on arrival at their destinations that there are none. By that time, they are helpless, unable to save themselves and resort to being used as slaves or sex workers until they are able to buy themselves out or escape.
It is easy to imagine how disappointing, but not how scary it can be when you are the slave, in a home you do not know, cannot locate and unsure if you will come out alive to tell the story.
My story starts on January 7, 2020 when I stumble on a Facebook comment by a lady who goes by the identity “Monica the Proud Mukiga”.
From our protracted interactions, I get the idea that I can pretend I want to work abroad so that I get trafficked and get first-hand information for our readers.
I have no idea the extremes to which the experience will stretch my nerves and almost cost me my life.
The idea is born
Monica is talking about why the Oman government has banned Ugandan housemaids.
I in-box her for details and she claims she was working as a housemaid in Oman, and had experienced no problems. She blames social media for the bad press about housemaids abroad, adding that it is overhyping the few isolated instances of bad experiences.
Through messenger texts, I learn from her that there are Ugandan agents who can smuggle me into Dubai at a cheaper cost than the officially registered companies. Monica, who claims she was trafficked through Kenya to Oman, offers to help me try my luck.
She says she has a sister who can find me a way to get to Dubai on fair charges. It is the first time I hear someone praising trafficking.
Monica shares her WhatsApp number because she says she does not trust Facebook. Through WhatsApp, she sends an audio recording from an agent who says she only has job openings for housemaids.
Her condition is that I pay sh1m before leaving Uganda – debts are not acceptable. Monica tries to convince me to pay, saying I will be earning 1,200 dirhams (about sh1.2m) and will never regret my decision. I say I don’t have the money.
Later, she gets back to me saying she has another agent who does not want a single coin. The agent will cover the cost of the ticket and visa; I only have to pay what is needed to process the required documents in Uganda. It sounds like a good deal.
“Now, take a full-length picture of yourself in a long dress with a veil on the head, like a Muslim, and send it to me. You must smile and stand straight to prove you have no disability,” Monica instructs. She also advises that I hurry and take advantage of the list of applications they are working on. She says if I send a picture that day, I will get my visa the following day.
Read more at newvision.co.ug