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The International Trade Union Confederation has received alarming reports from affiliated unions that 900 Mauritanian women have been trafficked to work in Saudi Arabia. Many are subject to abuse with no way out.
While Mauritania still has difficulty coming to terms with traditional slavery, reports of contemporary forms of slavery such as human trafficking are on the rise.
Mauritanian trade unions are receiving complaints of trafficked women workers who have returned from Saudi Arabia on a daily basis. All of them report how they were promised decent wages and jobs in Saudi Arabia as nurses and teachers, only to find themselves employed as domestic workers, working for a few dollars a day. Their passports have been confiscated, and they cannot leave without permission from their employer. Many have suffered from sexual harassment. Some report being beaten and locked up in a room without food or water for a week. Others were threatened with rape for complaining about working conditions. When they asked to return home to Mauritania, their employers refused.
The workers in this case are clearly victims of trafficking for forced labour. Despite cries for help from the families and Mauritanian trade unions, the Mauritanian government is turning a blind eye.
Unless the migrant labour programme is revised to install safeguards against forced labour in the management system, more abuses will follow.
PSI requests its affiliates to join the call for immediate action and send a message to the government of Mauritania now!