October 28, 2014
Case Study 1: Trafficked
‘Regina’ (not her real name) was brought to the UK by an employer to work in their private household. She explained that she worked for them one month prior to coming to the UK and that they promised that once in the UK she would have a reasonable job and good salary.
She showed Kalayaan has a copy of a contract which she told us her employers had given to her to present to the British Embassy when applying for her Overseas Domestic Worker visa which showed excellent terms and conditions and salary. Her employers did not know that she took a copy.
Regina explained that once she arrived in London was made to work from 6am – 11pm every day in the employers’ smart central London apartment. She was not paid during her time here and was not allowed to contact her family or to speak to people outside of her employers’ household. She slept in the laundry room and ate leftovers. Her passport was kept from her and she described being regularly verbally abused by her employers who would call her ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ and would threaten to cut her salary (although she was not paid any salary to make deductions from).
Regina has also explained that the 6 year old child she cared for was regularly abusive and would call her a ‘dirty lady’ and say ‘get away from my house, I don’t like your face’. He would hit her in the face. When she spoke to the mother about this the mother would scream at her and tell her not to criticise her child and threaten to jail her in the UK.
Regina described to Kalayaan that she had no way to challenge her treatment as she had no passport, no money and nowhere to go. She was eventually thrown out by the female employer following an accusation of losing a item of the baby’s clothes. Regina explained she was told not to come back until she found it. After looking without success for several hours, and too terrified to face her employer and having no money and nowhere to go Regina appealed to the reception staff in the apartments for help. The staff called the police. Regina explained that the police arrived, escorted her up to her employers’ apartment to retrieve her passport and then took her to her embassy and left her there. The police appear not to have identified her as trafficked in spite of the indicators, nor issued a crime reference number or even given Regina their card or contact details. Regina understands however that contact details were given to her employers. Regina was effectively left stranded, with no money or support to retrieve her unpaid wages and no way to return to her country.