Most people probably think that slavery is almost non-existent in the modern world. A few years ago I knew that there are up to… not many sex slaves in one or another country — young girls, usually from Eastern Europe, who managed to be friends with a bad company and were taken to another country for sex slavery. I will not touch this topic in this article — it requires much more attention from people who tend to close their eyes when seeing bad things.
Selling people online without their knowledge
A few days ago I was doing research — I translated the words “maid for sale” into a few languages and googled it. I found something that blew my mind — a few classified ads with photos of poor, smiling women with prices.
But let’s start from the beginning. I want to tell a story about simple, sometimes illiterate women from Ghana, Guinea, Philippines, and most probably other countries, who fell into the trap of smart men and start dreaming about a better life in foreign countries. Then they get their first passport, airplane ticket, and prepare for a new life, so-called modern slavery.
I imagine a girl from a poor neighborhood. She has three sisters and two brothers. She doesn’t often see her brothers at home because they are busy with other guys wandering in the streets. She and her mother have to take care of her younger sisters. But it should not be her life — like any other young woman she wants to buy a couple of fancy dresses from the clothing store in the district of riches. She wants to move to a big city and forget this dirt and poverty. She is still young and has a lot of dreams the same as I do.
Her friend told her about that guy who could help her to move to Kuwait. She will have to work there but it doesn’t matter — she will see the world and earn her own money. She will be able to help her sisters and maybe even travel a world. Today the deal is made — in one month she will be in Kuwait.
The airport is full of strangers: men and black dressed women. They all look the same. She realizes that nobody will help her here — she is all alone in a foreign country. Some man approaches her, takes her bag and passport. Her heart is beating so fast like never before. She sits in a car with two strangers looking through the window and all she sees is yellow sand, grey fences, and small houses.
This is the life of another victim of modern slavery. Starting from today this girl stays in stranger’s houses. Cleaning, ironing, doing dishes is her daily life now. She has no idea what they are talking about her because she doesn’t understand their language. She sometimes has to go for groceries but male family member always goes together. They have her passport and nobody is going to return it to her. She doesn’t know that her photo is online and the price for her is next to the photo.
Buying maid online
I heard about this issue in a BBC documentary about victims of modern slavery. The journalists tried to buy a few girls in Kuwait and they could easily do that. Sellers warned them to keep the maid’s passport safe. Even though it is illegal in Kuwait, the journalists could find plenty of classified ads on Instagram, Facebook and a couple of local websites. Even a policeman was selling girls.
Even though such a big companies like Twitter are strictly against human trafficking and in no way want to keep such content in their products, guess what. I translated “maid for sale” into Arabic and found a few classified ads on Twitter and Instagram! Yes, the same with photos and prices. And information to contact the seller via WhatsApp. Even though I notified both Twitter and Instagram about this issue, only Twitter blocked the user a few days later. Instagram replied me that due to restrictions related to COVID-19 they don’t have enough staff to react to all notifications of violations and I can mute inappropriate content if I do not like it.
This is a XXI century we are talking about. The century where poorer or less literate can be used for someone’s purposes. People do not want to see the problems of others because they have plenty of their own problems. However, the least we can do is to raise awareness and do not stay silent when someone’s daughter is slavering in a house of riches who are pretty sure she’s just an animal.