Lydia, 20 years old, lives in Nairobi and has been unemployed since completing high school. For more than a year she has been applying for jobs without success and needs to find work to help support her mother and younger sisters.
In central Nairobi Lydia sees a vacancy notice on a wall for full-time household domestic work in a Middle Eastern country. A salary of KES50,000 per month, food and board, international airfare, passport and visa are included in the offer. She makes note of the mobile number on the notice and calls it from home. A man answers the phone, confirms the details on the notice, and tells Lydia she can start work as soon as she is available. Frustrated from not finding work in Nairobi, Lydia tells the man she wants the job.
Lydia meets the man in Nairobi to supply information for her passport and visa application. Two weeks later he calls her to supply details of her flight to the destination. Lydia is excited to finally have work and an opportunity to travel internationally. She discusses sending money home with her mother.
Lydia flies to the destination country alone and after clearing immigration locates her contact holding a sign with her name. A man greets her in English and they drive across town to the house where Lydia will live and work. They stop at a large house in an affluent neighbourhood and Lydia is introduced to the resident husband and wife, who speak English. They tell her it is a requirement that they take her passport and phone. Lydia is shown all rooms of the house and areas of the property. It is a secure complex with perimeter walls. Excited, Lydia asks where her quarters are. She is taken to the back corner of the yard, shown a small metal shed with only a mattress inside, and is told that is where she will live. She is also told to get changed and come inside to prepare dinner.
Lydia works from 5pm until midnight, preparing food, cleaning the kitchen and dining area, washing dishes and cleaning and preparing clothes. She is given a small amount of leftover food. When the work is completed she is told to come back to the main house at 5am to start preparing breakfast, get the three young children in the family ready for school and clean the cars in the driveway. She returns to the metal shed and can only use a bucket and outside tap for washing.
The next morning Lydia is awoken at 5.30am by the wife banging on the shed, who yells at her and slaps her for being late. The wife tells Lydia she will be working from 5am until midnight each day, when the family is not home she must clean the house and yard, and the security guard at the front gate will be watching her.
The enforced routine continues for a week. Lydia is constantly exhausted and her back aches. Feeling sick, she approaches the wife in the house one evening and asks about being paid and having a day off. The wife beats and kicks Lydia extensively, tells her there is no salary or time off, she cannot leave the complex, no one can help her, and says if she asks questions again the men in the family will punish her.
After one month Lydia decides she must take action about being trapped. One night she attempts to get over the perimeter wall at the back of the complex, but sets off an alarm in the process. She is seen by the guard on the wall, pulled down and locked in the metal shed. A few hours later two men come into the shed and sexually assault and beat her, telling her it is punishment for waking up the family and trying to escape. She still works the following day.
After a few more weeks Lydia is resigned to the fact she cannot escape, and decides the only way to end the situation is to take her own life. One night she removes curtain cords from inside the house and hangs herself in the metal shed.
- Was Lydia lured into this situation and deceived? – Yes.
- Did Lydia agree to do the amount of work she was forced to do? – No.
- Was Lydia free to leave the work site and talk to family and friends? – No.
- Was Lydia physically, sexually or psychologically abused? – Yes, all three.
- Did Lydia have valid identification and was she in possession of such documents? – No.
- Was Lydia paid and were there any conditions of employment? – No.
- Did Lydia fear that something bad would happen to her, or to a family member, if she left the house? – Yes.
- Has Lydia been trafficked? – Yes.