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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                             

State of Kuwait

Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 104 billion barrels - 8% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income.   [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Kuwait

Kuwait is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor. The majority of trafficking victims are from among the over 500,000 foreign women recruited for domestic service work in Kuwait. Men and women migrate from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in search of work in the domestic and sanitation industries. Although they migrate willingly to Kuwait, upon arrival some are subjected to conditions of forced labor from their “sponsors” and labor agents, such as withholding of passports, confinement, physical sexual abuse and threats of such abuse or other serious harm, and non-payment of wages with the intent of compelling their continued service. Adult female migrant workers are particularly vulnerable, and consequently are often victims of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution.   - 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 Kuwait.  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 precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. 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.


Forced Labor and Debt Bondage

Human Rights Watch Global Report on Women's Human Rights, 1995

[accessed 13 June 2013]

[scroll down]

KUWAIT - Nearly 2,000 women domestic workers every year since the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 have fled the homes of abusive employers. These women are mainly from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and India. They report patterns of rape and physical assault, with debt bondage and illegal confinement being common. Kuwait has long depended on foreign workers to be the backbone on its labor. Unfortunately, Kuwait's law excludes domestic workers from their labor law protections. The maids' exclusion from the labor law creates isolation and denies them even minimal protection against unfair practices. Because of the isolation and the stigma of sexual assault, most domestic workers face many obstacles and are deterred from reporting employer abuse to the authorities.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Woman tells police she escaped human trafficking situation in downtown Cleveland, police reports say

Adam Ferrise,, 26 October 2019

[accessed 27 October 2019]

She told police she was scared and asked to leave the area, police reports say. She told the officers that she was sold four years ago to a family in Kuwait in order to take care of that family’s sick, elderly relative, according to police reports.

That family on Aug. 12 traveled to Cleveland so the elderly woman could get treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, according to police reports.

She told police that the family locked her in an apartment in Cleveland for two months. Cleveland’s law department redacted the address of the apartment and other information from police reports.

The woman told the officers she never had a chance to escape or call 911 until that day. She said the family was always around, and when they weren’t, they’d lock her in a bedroom in the apartment, according to police reports.

She also was forbidden from talking to anyone when they were in public, according to police reports.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kuwait

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

[accessed 13 June 2021]


Domestic servitude was the most common type of forced labor, principally involving foreign domestic workers employed under kafala, but reports of forced labor in the construction and sanitation sectors also existed. Forced labor conditions for migrant workers included nonpayment of wages, long working hours, deprivation of food, threats, physical and sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as withholding passports or confinement to the workplace. As of November private sector and domestic labor employers filed approximately 15,000 reports claiming that employees “absconded.” Domestic workers filed approximately 425 complaints against their employers in accordance with the domestic labor law. As of November, PAM statistics indicated that 2634 domestic helper-related complaints had been filed. Numerous domestic workers who escaped from abusive employers reported waiting several months to regain passports, which employers had illegally confiscated when they began their employment. In July the PAM announced it would no longer accept private sector complaints over absenteeism, after reports some employers were filing them maliciously as a pretext to violate labor laws.


Although not extensive, there were credible reports that children of South Asian origin worked as domestic laborers. Some underage workers entered the country on travel documents with falsified birth dates.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Foreign household workers and other migrant workers are highly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, often forced to live and work in poor or dangerous conditions for low pay. Many employers reportedly confiscate their household workers’ passports, subject them to excessive working hours, and restricted their movements outside the home. A 2015 law strengthened the rights of such domestic workers, including the right to paid leave and limits on working hours, but implementation remains problematic.

International media reports during 2019 highlighted a number of cases in which recruiting agents held female migrant workers for ransom, demanding money from their families before they could return home. Other workers have been repatriated from Kuwait by the state labor bureau after being refused payment or otherwise harassed or abused by their employers. At least two domestic workers from the Philippines were reported to have been murdered during the year.

Cameroonians Rescued From Human Traffickers

Moki Edwin Kindzeka, Voice of America VOA News, 10 July 2015

[accessed 12 July 2015]

As some 50 Cameroonian women recover in a trauma center from their ordeals of forced labor in Middle East homes, calls are resounding for the central African nation’s government to investigate and prosecute the human traffickers allegedly responsible for their plight.

Some of the women said they were deceived by television ads claiming there was work in Kuwait for domestic help, nurses and airport employees.

Claudette Amikeh, 27, said she was treated like a slave during a year in Kuwait. She complained of little time to sleep and, "at times, no food, [only] stress."

Amikeh said she begged to be returned to Cameroon, but "this woman said I am going nowhere: I have come to work, I must work. I went down on my knees…. I cried to God for help. I prayed and cried."

Beatrice Titanji, who runs the trauma center, said these human traffickers also collect an advance salary of $3,000 from Middle East people who contract for the women’s services. They don’t give the money to the women.

200 Kuwaitis, 40 firms blacklisted over human trafficking

Kuwait News Agency KUNA, September 22, 2008

[accessed 30 April 2020]

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HUMAN TRADERS, FIRMS BANNED - Two hundred Kuwaitis and 40 companies have been blacklisted and banned from recruiting domestic laborers due to their alleged involvement in human trafficking, Al-Watan Arabic daily quoted informed sources as saying.  Meanwhile, 500 expatriates were arrested for violating the residency law and were referred to authorities.

Governing Justly and Combating Human Trafficking: The Linkages

Mark P. Lagon, Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Remarks at the Freedom House-SAIS "Human Trafficking and Freedom" Event, Washington DC, December 3, 2007

[accessed 10 July 2013]

In many countries in the Persian Gulf region too, to be a woman or a migrant often means less than equal treatment under the law and in practice, but to be a woman migrant leaves you in a really tough spot. Recently I met a 24 year old woman from Nepal who worked as a domestic in Kuwait. She’d been beaten and had numerous bite marks all over her arms and back from a sadistic woman who felt impunity to treat her as NO human should be treated. She was, simply, a slave in her employer’s house.

Kuwait lashes U.S. human rights report

Xinhua News Agency, Kuwait City, 28 June 2007

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Rejecting the accusation made by the U.S. report saying Kuwaitis running human trafficking in an excuse of reducing global joblessness, the committee said in the statement that "The State of Kuwait opens its arms to those incoming workers and even provides them with all available job opportunities, unlike many other countries which combat and deport them on the grounds of fighting illegal immigration."  "By doing so, Kuwait ought to be commended, appreciated and even placed on an honors list," it added.

Human trafficking

Muna Al-Fuzai, Kuwait Times, June 20, 2007

[accessed 28 November 2010]

New labor regulations and civilized working laws that leave no place for the sponsor's moods and thoughts must be enforced. One issue that many maids complain about is that they have no rights in deciding their place of work meaning they have no say when their sponsor moves them from one house to another, like the house of a sponsor's relative or friend.

If we had a clear law to prevent their sponsors from acting freely in this matter, many troubles could be solved in this regard. Not all sponsors are doing this, but some are so we have to think about how to eliminate such actions. Giving a day off for a maid seems a small issue but it was a problem for many maids here. House maids are not supposed to work around the clock and their rights in these matters must be clear and must be respected by their sponsors.

The wages and the means of payment are also problems for many workers and they need a policy to protect their rights and not only the sponsor's rights. These matters started as a molehill but have now turned into a mountain because there has never been a visible solution to handle it over the years. The sponsorship system needs a quick revision and update based on international laws and human rights laws especially regarding working hours and wages with days off.

New study shames human traffickers

Patrick Mathangani, The Standard, May 11, 2007

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Countries in the Middle East have been named as the worst culprits of human trafficking.

A new report by an international trade unions’ umbrella organisation says Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen are notorious destinations for women trafficked from Kenya.

Its report, ‘Trafficking in Persons — The Eastern Africa Situation’, notes that women and children were favourite targets for well-organised trafficking rings, which operate freely for lack of solid laws against the vice.

Two sides of women's oppression

Sara Flounders, Workers World newspaper, March 11, 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

DISMANTLING GUARANTEED RIGHTS - In these societies women are literally slaves, imprisoned in the home and held captive within a repressive patriarchal system. They have no right to work or control their own funds or even to drive a car. They cannot even travel unaccompanied by a male family member. They have no right to vote or to participate in any form of political life.

In Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and throughout the oil-rich Gulf states, women have no rights that any man is bound to respect. They have no right to decide who they will marry, nor do they have a right to divorce, even from an abusive husband. Education is separate--and so unequal that most women in oil-rich Saudi Arabia are still illiterate.

Ansar Burney Trust rescues two more 'Child Camel Jockeys' in UAE

Pakistan Press International PPI, Lahore, 09 October 2004

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

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. These children were trafficked from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and several countries in Africa and brought to the Middle Eastern and Arab countries for several reasons including for sex and slave labour.

Slavery of Children and women in Persian gulf countries

Morteza Aminmansour, Persian Journal, Jun 20, 2004

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Exact number of victims is impossible to obtain, but according to an official source in UAE, there has been increase in the number of teen-age girls in prostitution (forced to work from Iran and other countries). The magnitude of the statistic conveys how rapidly this form of abuse has grown. The popular destinations for victims of the sex slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf (UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar). Traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 to send to Arab countries. The number of Iranian women and girls who are deported from Persian Gulf countries indicates the Magnitude of the trade.

Campaigning against Bonded Labour

International Federation of Workers' Education Associations IFWEA Journal, December 2000

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS - The experience of Alice illustrates how many are tricked into debt bondage. Recruited from Manila for work in Kuwait, Alice was eventually taken by her employers to work for them in London.

Despite Alice’s qualification as a civil engineer in Manila, the pay was not enough to support her and her family.  She answered an advert recruiting engineers to Kuwait offering 215 Pounds per month -- six times her Philippine salary.  Against her expected salary her family borrowed money so she could pay the agency's fee, half of which was due before leaving Manila.  Upon arriving in Kuwait City she found that there were no civil engineering posts, only jobs for maids at a salary considerably less than she was promised.  With no money to pay the agency or to pay for the flight back home, she had no choice but to sign a contract to work as a domestic. 

Her day began at 5:30am and only ended once all of the adults had gone to bed, which was regularly after 2am.  She had no time off, not even to go to church or to write letters home.

After two and a half years in Kuwait Alice was taken to London.  Following an attack in which her employer tried to rape her she fled. It was the first time she had been out of the house.

The New Slavery

Kevin Bales, "Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy" Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999

[accessed 17 February 2011]

WHAT DOES RACE HAVE TO DO WITH IT?  - It is true that in some countries there are ethnic or religious differences between slaves and slaveholders. In Pakistan, for example, many enslave brickmakers are Christians while the slaveholders are Muslim. In India slave and slaveholder may be from different castes. In Thailand they may come from different regions of the country and are much more likely to be women. But in Pakistan there are Christians who are not slaves, in India members of the same caste who are free. Their caste or religion simply reflects their vulnerability to enslavement; it doesn't cause it. Only in one country, Mauritania, does the racism of the old slavery persist -- there black slaves are held by Arab slaveholders, and race is a key division. To be sure, some cultures are more divided along racial lines than others. Japanese culture strongly distinguishes the Japanese as different from everyone else, and so enslaved prostitutes in Japan are more likely to be Thai, Philippine, or European women -- although they may be Japanese. Even here, the key difference is not racial but economic: Japanese women are not nearly so vulnerable and desperate as Thais or Filipinas. And the Thai women are available for shipment to Japan because Thais are enslaving Thais. The same pattern occurs in the oil-rich states of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where Muslim Arabs promiscuously enslave Sri Lankan Hindus, Filipino Christians, and Nigerian Muslims. The common denominator is poverty, not color. Behind every assertion of ethnic difference is the reality of economic disparity.

A death sentence for a young Filipino maid highlights the problem of abuse of Asian servants

Michael S. Serrill, Reported by Scott MacLeod/Al-Ain and Nelly Sindayen/Manila, TIME, October 23, 1995

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Despite the settlement, the case cast a spotlight on a dark practice throughout the Arabian peninsula: an almost medieval system of servitude that each year turns thousands of young women from underdeveloped Asian countries into virtual slaves for prosperous Arab families. The women are frequently lured to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the lesser emirates and sultanates by shady "employment agents" who offer them attractive-sounding jobs at relatively high pay. Once there, they learn that much of the money they initially earn--the going rate is $100 to $150 a month--goes to pay for their airfare and the employment agent's fee.

Worse, the maids find themselves in virtual bondage to their employers, who almost without exception confiscate the servants' passports to prevent them from walking out before fulfilling their typical two-year contract. It is common for the maids to be forced to work from dawn to midnight, seven days a week. Often they are fed scraps and leftovers, are beaten and verbally abused and, in the worst cases, raped and murdered. Only in the most egregious instances is an employer ever charged with sexual abuse or assault.

The Overthrow Of The American Republic - Part 30

Sherman H. Skolnick, RENSE.COM, March 22, 2003

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Point by point, I discussed the findings of a unit of the United Nations which had documented a terrible truth. Here it was, late in the 20th Century, I told the crowd, that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to undisputed details of the U.N. unit, each had huge numbers of BLACK CHATTEL SLAVES. Saudi, according to the findings, had about one hundred thousand such slaves and Kuwait about fifty thousand of the same.

Work Worries - Women going abroad to work is leading to more human trafficking

Lanka Business Online, 04 Mar 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 11 February 2019]

Sri Lankan women are trafficked to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, mainly as sex workers or for forced labor.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights [PDF]

UN COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CESCR, Thirty-second session, 26 April-14 May 2004 – Distributed 7 June 2004

[accessed 2 September 2014],CESCR,CONCOBSERVATIONS,KWT,4153f9734,0.html

[accessed 4 February 2018]

[41] The Committee recommends that the State party take effective measures to combat trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, by ensuring, inter alia, that those responsible for trafficking are prosecuted, and to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, of 2001. The Committee recommends that the State party establish support services for victims of trafficking and take steps to sensitize law enforcement officials and the general public to the gravity of this issue.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 17 February 2011]


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 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The country is a destination for men, women, and children trafficked primarily from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Some foreign workers, mostly female domestics, have been abused by their employers and coerced into situations of debt bondage or involuntary servitude. Instances of laborers associated with visa trading schemes and women trafficked into prostitution were reported during the year. The principal traffickers were labor recruitment agencies and sponsors of domestic workers.

The physical or sexual abuse of foreign women working as domestic servants was a problem. Some employers physically abused foreign women working as domestic servants, and despite economic and social difficulties for a domestic servant to lodge a complaint, these women continued to report such abuse. The local press devoted considerable attention to the problem, and both the police and courts have taken action against employers when presented with evidence of serious abuse. Some rapes resulted in pregnancies, and there were reports of illegal abortions. Occasionally domestic workers were charged with assaulting their employers; in such cases the workers claimed that they acted in response to physical abuse or poor working conditions.

Human Rights Reports » 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2004

[accessed 9 February 2020]

WOMEN - There were some reports of women, mainly from Asia, who were trafficked into the country into situations of coerced labor, where they often suffered from physical abuse or other extreme working conditions. Some female domestic servants who ran away from their employers due to abuse or poor working conditions were recruited or kidnapped into prostitution.

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