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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025

Kingdom of Bahrain

With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. Petroleum production and refining account for over 60% of Bahrain's export receipts, over 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP (exclusive of allied industries), underpinning Bahrain's strong economic growth in recent years. Aluminum is Bahrain's second major export after oil.

Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of oil and underground water resources are long-term economic problems. [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Bahrain

Bahrain is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Eritrea migrate voluntarily to Bahrain to work as formal sector laborers or domestic workers. Some, however, face conditions of involuntary servitude after arriving in Bahrain, such as unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009 Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION: The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Bahrain. Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false. No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you. Would you like to write about Forced-Labor? Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc. On the other hand, you might choose to include possible precursors of trafficking such as poverty. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking. Scan other countries as well. Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions. Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Confronting the Taboo of Human Trafficking

John Defterios, Khaleej Times Online, 13 March 2009

[accessed 18 August 2015]

[accessed 18 August 2015]

Forty-year-old Suryavathi Rao fled the home of her employer that morning shoeless with only a nightgown and bible to her name. The years of domestic labour have taken their toll. She could easily pass for 60 if not a few years older. After working 16 hours a day, seven days a week for a year and a half, Suryavathi could not take it anymore.

She said through a translator that her meagre salary of $108 a month had not been paid for six months. She complained about not being fed meals and surviving on the generosity of her neighbour another domestic worker who pulled together leftovers to get by. Suryavathi could not get through three sentences without breaking into tears. As a result of her fleeing for protection, she has become a runaway worker with no rights. Her employer holds her passport. The best she can hope for is to get the passport back and hope that the shelter can give her enough money to buy a ticket and fly home to Southern India. It is not that simple of course, since back home Suryavathi fears she won't be welcomed back due to her "failure" to send back money and keep a job.

This is the life of a forced labourer and the complex world of human trafficking. Technically, Suryavathi was not trafficked. She had a sponsor agency that she paid $1100 to back in India and is still charging here 5 per cent a month interest on the balance. But she certainly did not expect slave like conditions when she arrived.

Bahrain activists hope for better protection of workers' rights

Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief, Gulf News, February 13, 2007

[accessed 20 January 2011]

LACK OF LEGISLATION - Around 270,000 foreigners out of total population of 710,000 live in Bahrain, whose economy depends heavily on them. But the lack of comprehensive legislation on foreign workers, mainly from Asia, who come to Bahrain to work as domestic servants and in the construction industry often means that they have to put up with physical abuse, sexual harassment, non-payment or delay in payment of salary and long hours of work. "We want to use the workshop to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of the issue of exploitative labour and labour trafficking.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Bahrain

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 May 2021]


There were reports of forced labor in the construction and service sectors. The labor law covers foreign workers, except domestic workers, but enforcement was lax, and cases of debt bondage were common. There were also reports of forced labor practices among domestic workers and others working in the informal sector; labor laws did not protect most of these workers. Domestic workers from third countries have the right to see the terms included in their employment contract before leaving their home countries, or upon arrival. The law requires domestic contacts to be tripartite and to have the signature of the employer, recruitment office, and employee.

According to reports by third-country labor officials and human rights organizations, employers withheld passports, a practice prohibited by law, restricted movement, substituted contracts, or did not pay wages; some employers also threatened workers and subjected them to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (Ministry of Labor) reported 1,976 labor complaints from domestic workers and construction workers, mostly of unpaid wages or denied vacation time. In August the ministry reported that 16 workers were victims of forced labor during the annual summer work ban. Authorities referred 27 companies to the courts for alleged violations of the ban.


The law requires that before the ministry makes a final decision on allowing a minor to work, the prospective employer must present documentation from the minor's guardian giving the minor permission to work; proof the minor underwent a physical fitness examination to determine suitability; and assurance from the employer the minor would not work in an environment the ministry deemed hazardous. The government generally enforced the law with established mechanisms; however, gaps exist within the operations of the Ministry of Labor that may hinder adequate enforcement of their child labor laws.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 19 March 2020]


Migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation. Some employers subject them to forced labor and withhold their salaries and passports, although this is illegal. The government has taken steps to combat human trafficking in recent years, and has begun on occasion to investigate and prosecute perpetrators.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 15 April 2019]

[accessed 22 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country's report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 133]

The government has established laws and regulations related to child labor (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Bahrain's legal framework to adequately protect children from the worst forms of child labor, including the prohibition of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The minimum age protection in the Labor Law does not apply to children in certain sectors, such as domestic work. (7)

The law does not sufficiently prohibit commercial sexual exploitation because offering and using children for prostitution and offering, procuring, and using children for production of pornography and pornographic performances are not criminally prohibited. (10; 11).

Thai Sex Worker In Bahrain Seeks To Extricate Friends Caught In Catch 22 Situation

Pattaya Daily News, 02/05/2007

[accessed 20 January 2011]

[accessed 20 January 2011]

Uoom told the reporter "I want to warn other women. If you were convinced by someone who promised you a well-paid job in Bahrain, don't trust them. They will tell you of a dream-like city, but what you'll face is like a hell."

Cyber sex sites spur vice probe

Rebecca Torr, Gulf Daily News, August 15th, 2007

[accessed 20 January 2011]

A Bahrain human rights group has launched an investigation to unmask the perpetrators behind more than 35 websites offering sex to customers here and in other Gulf countries. Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) president Mohammed Al Maskati said they were concerned about women who were being brought here on promises of lawful employment only to find themselves victims of sexual exploitation. He said women from Europe, Middle East and Asia were being advertised for sex through more than 35 Arabic and English websites.

Human trafficking victims failing to turn up

Geoffrey bew, Gulf Daily News, August 08, 2007

[accessed 20 January 2011]

Migrant workers' rights activists say they are helpless when it comes to assisting victims of human trafficking in Bahrain to benefit from the government's general amnesty. Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) action committee head Marietta Dias said women being held against their will and controlled by others are likely to have little chance of making it to the relevant authorities.

"Human trafficking victims are of concern to us, but what can we do?" she told the GDN. "We have no idea where these people are being held or whether they have come here on their own free will. "We hope that these people can somehow take advantage of the amnesty, but how we get to the victims is the main thing." Her comments come after Thai Embassy officials said the fear of arrest was preventing many of its people from taking part in the amnesty.

No Human-Trafficking Problem in Bahrain

Bahrain News Agency, May 29, 2007

[accessed 1 September 2011]

Social development minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi has rejected the idea of classifying Bahrain as a country suffering from the problem of human trafficking. Human-trafficking is a global trend that many countries, including developed ones, suffer from, she said in a statement to Bahraini daily Akhbar Al Khaleej. She said her ministry had taken all legal measures against the problem and has created a social protection network to avoid it. Some of the steps taken are the setting up of Dar Al Aman For the protection and shelter of abused women, the setting up the Bahrain Child Protection Centre, the introduction of an anti-begging law and the opening a centre to shelter beggars, she said.

Invisible victims of trafficking

Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief, Gulf News, November 3, 2006

[accessed 20 January 2011]

[accessed 20 January 2011]

"A significant number of human beings, including women, are trafficked into Bahrain. Unfortunately, their plight seems to remain unknown to significant parts of Bahraini society, perhaps because the victims tend to be foreign nationals or are considered to be of low social status," Sigma Huda, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, has said.

The Bangladesh-born lawyer said: "Bahrain's victims of trafficking are often invisible victims because they suffer in places that remain hidden to the public eye, such as private homes, hotel rooms or labour camps."

Gulf states urged to fight human trafficking

Reuters, Manama, Nov 1, 2006

[accessed 20 January 2011]

Huda said female domestic workers, roughly 50,000 of Bahrain's 300,000 migrant workers, were especially disadvantaged. Some are lured into degrading jobs by recruiting agents with false promises of decent work conditions.

Huda described complaints of 14 to 16-hour working days, imprisonment in the home, the confiscation of passports, deprivation from contacting home countries, withholding pay, or being forced to steal food or eat scraps through lack of meals.

"Physical abuse is also a problem. Some victims told me of incidents of severe and traumatic abuse including mental and verbal abuse," she said, adding that widely held racist and sexist attitudes contributed to the prevalence of trafficking.

Human trafficking claimed

Bahraini.TV, August 7, 2006

[Last accessed 20 January 2011 - access is now restricted]

A probe into alleged human trafficking may be launched in relation to last week's Gudaibiya labour camp blaze, in which 16 workers were killed. Indian Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty has asked the Bahrain Foreign Ministry to investigate what he alleges were violations of international laws against human trafficking.

Islamic Clerics Authorize Sex With Infants

Excerpts from an interview with Bahraini women's rights activist Ghada Jamshir, Al-Arabiya TV, December 21, 2005,, January 4, 2006

[accessed 20 January 2011]

"The point is not to have opposition from abroad. The point is for them to live and be protected in a safe country. If a woman cannot get any protection in her country, cannot get any protection from the courts, cannot get any protection in the marital home - where will she go? Where will she go?"

"All her life, the woman is a prisoner in her own home. In the past, she would not go out to work, or to study abroad. Very few women would go to university outside Bahrain. She is at home in order to cook, sweep, and raise the children. How will she get an education? There are women whose families are extremist. They even force them to marry against their will.

2nd ID Seeks to Curb Lap Dancing at Clubs

Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes, Pacific Edition, Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, January 26, 2004,13190,SS_012604_Lap,00.html

[accessed 20 January 2011]

[accessed 4 September 2016]

The crime often involves women duped into moving to a foreign country, then forced to become sex workers there. Greer said he learned about human trafficking after meeting his Philippine wife when she was working in a South Korean nightclub.

"When I was dating my wife, I found out her sister in Bahrain hadn't been paid in 10 months. She was working 16 hours a day, six days a week. Through many e-mails and telephone calls we took this guy to court and he had to pay her and return her to the Philippines," he said.

Arms Trade

Victoria Garcia, Analyst, Center for Defense Information, March 31, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

BACKGROUND - Although the government has worked to advance human rights and improve citizens' ability to change their government through more democratic means, the U.S. Department of State notes several problems in the human rights area.  While the Constitution calls for an independent judiciary, courts are often subject to government pressure and security forces are rarely tried for abusing their power.  The government limits the freedom of speech and of the press; freedoms of assembly and association; and freedom of movement.  Violence and discrimination against women is common, as is discrimination based on religion and ethnicity.  Forced labor and human trafficking are also problems.

Ansar Burney Trust Rescues Two More 'Child Camel Jockeys' in UAE

Pakistan Press International PPI, Lahore, October 09, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

ANSAR BURNEY TRUST RESCUES TWO MORE 'CHILD CAMEL JOCKEYS' IN UAE - The Ansar Burney Welfare Trust International is the only human rights organisation working since last several years practically against slave labour in Middle East and Arab Countries to rescue the innocent children working as child camel jockeys in very worst circumstances. It has rescued total 318 children in this current year, 147 children on slave in UAE and 171 children from Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Muscat, Kuwait and other parts of the Arab and Middle East countries and sent them back to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Srilanka and other respective countries for their rehabilitation.

Dhaka blacklisted for human trafficking

Agence France-Presse AFP, 16 June 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 4 September 2011]

The State Department in its report observed that Bangladesh is a country of origin and transit for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude, and debt bondage.

An estimated 10-20,000 women and girls are trafficked annually to India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch - Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 20 January 2011]


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 23 April 2020]


Some employers subject migrant workers to forced labor, and there are reports that abusers withhold workers' documentation in order to prevent them from leaving or reporting abuse to the authorities. The government has taken steps to combat human trafficking in recent years, but efforts to investigate and prosecute perpetrators remain weak. Bahrain rolled out a new "flexible" work permit in July 2017 that would allow some expatriate workers to be their own sponsors. However, the permit is prohibitively expensive for household workers and laborers who have been historically exploited.

2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 16 March 2019]

[accessed 24 June 2019]


The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor except in national emergencies, but the government did not always enforce the law effectively. There were reports of forced labor in the construction and service sectors. The labor law covers foreign workers, except domestic workers, but enforcement was lax, and cases of debt bondage were common. There were also reports of forced labor practices that occurred among domestic workers and others working in the informal sector; labor laws did not protect most of these workers. Since 2012 domestic workers have the right to see their terms of employment.

In many cases employers withheld passports, restricted movement, substituted contracts, or did not pay wages; some employers also threatened workers and subjected them to physical and sexual abuse. The Ministry of Labor reported complaints from domestic workers, mostly of unpaid wages.

Human Rights Reports 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 6 February 2020]

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS - [c] Unskilled foreign workers can become indentured servants and often lacked the knowledge to exercise their legal right to change employment.

In numerous instances, employers withheld salaries from their foreign workers for months and even for years, and refused to grant them the necessary permission to leave the country. The government and the courts generally worked to rectify abuses if they were brought to their attention, but they otherwise focused little attention on the problem. The fear of deportation or employer retaliation prevented many foreign workers from making complaints to the authorities.

Labor laws do not apply to domestic servants. There were numerous credible reports that domestic servants, especially women, were forced to work 12‑ or 16‑hour days, given little time off, were malnourished, and were subjected to verbal and physical abuse, including sexual molestation and rape. Between 30 to 40 percent of the attempted suicide cases handled by the government's psychiatric hospitals were foreign maids.

It was estimated that there were 50,000 foreign housemaids working in the country who are predominantly of Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Indian, Bangladeshi and Filipino origins. During the year, there were several incidents of seriously abused housemaids reported in the press.

Housemaids who have no embassy representation in the country (Indonesian and Sri Lankan) are often subject to the worst types of physical and sexual abuse. With no diplomatic mission to protect them and no established victim assistance shelter, runaway housemaids have often been returned by untrained police to abusing employers.

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