Some suffer physical or sexual abuse.
The below video is from a Danish documentary, but many of the interviews are in English and there are English subtitles.
This video shows a family in Saudi Arabia beating a domestic laborer in their household, most likely because they suspected she had stolen something from them. She's hanging upside down suspended from the ceiling.
Saudi family hang Ethiopian maid from hook - brutally beat her
But what about the wives in these households, you may ask. They turn and look the other way. Sometimes they are the one abusing the domestic laborers.
It's gotten so bad, Indonesia placed a ban on any more of their domestic laborers going to Saudi Arabia, although the ban hasn't really worked. Now there are women coming from other countries like the Philippines and Ethiopia.
A report on one group of domestic slaves — Vietnamese women — by reporter Yen Duong, who interviewed former workers who had made it back to Vietnam, was published last year in Al Jazeera here:
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/featu ... 29939.html
Overworked, abused, hungry: Vietnamese domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.
Women say they are forced to work at least 18 hours a day, denied food, assaulted and refused the right to return home.
Pham Thi Dao, 46, says she worked more than 18 hours a day and was given the same one meal to live on – a slice of lamb and plain rice.
Dao, 46, was a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for more than seven months until she returned to Vietnam in April.
“I worked from 5am until 1am in the morning, and was allowed to eat once at 1pm,” Dao told Al Jazeera of her experience in the port city of Yanbu. “It was the same every day – a slice of lamb and a plate of plain rice. After nearly two months, I was like a mad person.”
According to statistics from Vietnam’s labor ministry, there are currently 20,000 Vietnamese workers in the kingdom, with nearly 7,000 working as domestic staff for Saudi families…
Some who escaped have recounted slave-like working and living conditions.
“I understand that as [domestic] workers we need to get used to difficult working conditions,” said Dao, who is vocal on social media about her experience. “We didn’t ask for much, just no starvation, no beatings, and three meals per day. If we had that, we would not have begged for rescue.”…
“As soon as I arrived at the airport in Riyadh, they (employees from a Saudi company providing domestic workers) pushed me into a room with more than a hundred of others,” she said. “When my employer picked me up later, he took my passport and employment contract. Most women I’ve talked to here experience the same thing.”
By seizing the workers’ passports, the Saudi employers have complete control over them. They cannot leave the country, nor move about inside Saudi Arabia, nor go to work for another employer. And if they don’t have their employment contract, which has been seized by their employer, they have no way of knowing if the onerous conditions they endure violate the contract’s provisions. They are captives of their employer in every sense.
Like Dao, she said she was given one meal a day and worked 18-hour shifts.
Another domestic worker, who requested anonymity, showed Al Jazeera her contract stipulating a nine-hour working day – a standard given the contracts are composed by Vietnam’s labour ministry.
Dao shows notes from the Arabic lesson she took before her trip. Vietnamese domestic workers are entitled to classes on language, skills and culture but the sessions are poorly executed, say the workers.
When Linh asked to be moved to another family – a workers' right according to their contracts – staff at the Vietnamese broker company shouted at her and tried to intimidate her.
She went on a hunger strike for three days until her employer agreed to take her back to the Saudi company…
Leaving an employment contract carries a hefty fine, plus the price of a ticket back to Vietnam, if the worker is unable to prove abuse at the hands of their employers.
The cost of quitting is usually between $2,500 and $3,500.
These workers typically get paid, at best, $388 per month. So that's between 7 and 8 months salary that must be repaid back. And that's assuming their employer voluntarily decides to give them back their passport.