There has been a growing trend of desperate African women being trafficked and exploited in middle eastern nations like Oman and Kuwait. Police in many African countries have issued warnings to the public after uncovering a human trafficking ring that entices young women to the Middle East under the premise of job opportunities.
According to the Global Slavery Index, there were an estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world in 2022, which is the main force behind human trafficking.
Two women described their ordeal in a recent court case in Harare, detailing how they were deceived and exploited in Oman. The women were given a fake offer that was difficult resist. It was a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity in Dubai, complete with fully funded airfare and visas. The desperate women believed it was the only way out of Zimbabwe's chronic poverty.
Within weeks, Miriam Zihumo and Isabel Mushoriwa's fantasy had turned into a nightmare, and they were willing to give up everything but their lives to return home. The promised rich jobs turned out to be a life of enslavement and exploitation in Oman, rather than Dubai.
When Zihumo arrived in Oman, her fears were compounded when her passport was taken away by people working with their facilitator. She was "sold" to a man who would eventually become her "employer." Zihumo only made it home after lying to the man detaining her that she had a wedding scheduled in Zimbabwe and that her family had purchased her tickets. Mushoriwa was also able to flee after lying about her mother's death.
Mushoriwa had to lie that if she did not attend her mother's funeral in Zimbabwe, she would suffer from mental illness. Before releasing her, the "employer" apparently wanted to see the burial order. He also requested that her family purchase a return ticket, which they did in order to ensure her safety.
The lady accused of being at the heart of a cheap labor export to the Middle East was charged on April 22 under Zimbabwe's Trafficking in Persons Act. Zimbabwean police are now dealing with 18 cases, but there could be up to 100 trafficked victims seeking assistance in Oman.
The Namibian police recently said that 26 Namibian women between the ages of 27 and 40 were trafficked to Oman. The victims were allegedly duped into accepting job offers by a facilitator in Namibia.
The desperate Namibian ladies were given money to travel to South Africa and then board planes to Oman. The facilitators paid for the trips, including work visas, but they had to be reimbursed once they were hired on the other side. Unfortunately, the promised income, as well as housing and working arrangements, were not as advertised upon arrival.
Namibian employees were not allowed to return unless they paid back all of their visa and trip costs. Victims were then forced into exploitative and potentially fatal situations. The employees then demanded to return to Namibia, but their passports and cell phones were taken, according to the police.
African Human trafficking
Human trafficking is a serious problem in Africa, and women and children are particularly vulnerable. According to the United Nations' latest report, people can be trafficked inside their own countries, to adjacent countries, and to other continents for sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, forced marriage, domestic servitude, and different forms of forced labor. African governments must do more to address the pressing trafficking epidemic.