By Alice Johnson on March 23, 2023
“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant. This statement by Desmond Tutu, a South African civil rights activist is a powerful reminder that even small actions can make a significant impact on the lives of those who are oppressed. When people are trapped in situations of exploitation and abuse, they can often feel isolated and helpless. Knowing that others are standing in solidarity with them can give them hope and strength to carry on.
This phrase is especially relevant in the context of domestic worker slavery in London. The problem is complicated, and there are no simple solutions. But, every attempt to raise awareness, provide assistance, and advocate for change contributes to a greater movement to abolish domestic worker exploitation and abuse.
For generations, wealthy households have relied on domestic assistance to undertake jobs such as cleaning, cooking, and childcare. Many domestic workers are brought to London from other countries under the guise of having decent job opportunities, only to become trapped in modern-day slavery. There have been numerous reports and allegations of domestic staff being treated like slaves in the homes of some of London’s wealthiest families.
Despite rules in the UK protecting employees from exploitation and abuse, certain employers have been known to violate these standards, resulting in cases of domestic workers being overworked, underpaid, and mistreated. Many of these workers have their passports confiscated and are forced to work long hours for little pay, with no days off or sick leave and not even get the chance to look in their work contract. They are often subject to verbal and physical abuse, and their living conditions are often cramped and unhygienic. They are sometimes put under threats like if they try to escape the police will be called and puts them in jail.
Adele, 34, is from the Philippines’ Cavite province. Despite the danger of harassment, she accepted a job in Saudi Arabia.
She was taken to an office when her wealthy Saudi employer informed her that she would be traveling to
London. Her boss instructed her to sign forms for a visa. Also, she was not given the opportunity to read them. “The boss’s secretary drove us to the building; they never, ever told us where we were going. I tried to read the papers, but our boss told me, ‘You are a slave. You have no right to read it.'” She had to play with the children all day and was not given money or food.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Numerous more domestic workers have come forward with stories of mistreatment by their employers. Some have even reported physical abuse or threats of deportation if they speak out against their employer’s behavior.
One approach to addressing this issue is to raise awareness and knowledge of the issue. This can be
accomplished through education campaigns and outreach initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the problem and encouraging people to take action. Employers must be held accountable for how they treat domestic workers, and the government must ensure that proper safeguards are in place.Kalayaan, a UK-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of migrant domestic workers, is one of these groups. Kalayaan provides domestic workers with assistance and advocacy, assisting them in navigating complex legal a
nd bur eaucratic procedures and assuring their access to j ustice and support. Fu rthermore, they aim ork er exploitation and ab use , as well as campaign for legislation reforms that will help to solve the issue.