Kuwait still haunts trafficking victims

HARARE - Although they may have escaped the jaws of human trafficking, but far from being free, they are still ‘‘slaves’’.

One young Zimbabwean woman, who was recently repatriated after being trafficked to Kuwait says their troubles are far from over.

Away from the glare of the public, some of the survivors have been embraced by welcoming parents, yet, others are facing tensions in their homes, blamed for the misfortune.

Thus it is no surprise that the few fortunate to have fled “household slavery”—whose names may still not be revealed — have not yet found the courage to face their demons and fully recount their harrowing tales.

The Daily News on Sunday this week managed to glean accounts of various women who fought back tears as they spoke of the trauma they are still experiencing alas in their own homes.

“I was thanking God that now I am here, now I am home,” one woman said as she shed tears.

“But when we got home we received different types of receptions,” she said.

“Some welcomed us with open arms but some actually laughed at us. After going through what we went through, I am sure this is only half of what I can speak out, the rest I cannot. I still cannot say, I haven’t really brought myself to open up and say what really happened but some people really have the guts to laugh.

“Calling us names, saying it’s our fault, saying we wanted to experience what we experienced, maybe we did, I don’t know, maybe we did.”

She, however, remained indebted to a Malawian lady who warned her to conceal her phone away from the Arabian agents.

The phone would later prove invaluable.

After harrowing abuse at the hands of the Arabian family where she looked after a young boy, she later stole a sim card she discovered while cleaning.

“I started looking for help. I found myself looking up human trafficking in Kuwait, plenty pages came out — national human trafficking in America, IOM, project 189, I started sending emails to all those organisations asking for help,” she said.

“The one in America replied they wanted my address but I didn’t know where I was…they kept sending emails to me.

“They got in touch with one of their agents in Kuwait who asked me to send my location through WhatsApp’’. It took the abuse of the next door Ghanaian housemaid to jerk her into action and finally send her location.

“I said if I am going to die, let me die but not in this house. I sent my location to that guy and he came to my rescue.”

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, whose Young Women Christian Association played a pivotal role in repatriating human trafficking victims, said relatives should embrace the girls.

“This is my call to families, friends and loved ones receiving the women who were trafficked to Kuwait. This is not the time to dig into the details, to blame and shout, and sleep late into the night sorting out all the details. This is simply the time to welcome, to show love, empathy and understanding.”

The human rights lawyer and African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage called for robust global laws to stamp out human trafficking.

“Zimbabwe must step up its efforts to prevent human trafficking. We must all do what we can to have our hundreds of sisters still stranded in Kuwait to come back home.”

Women Affairs minister Nyasha Chikwinya believes repatriated women are only a tip of the iceberg of thousands of desperate Zimbabwean women still held against their will in foreign lands.

“…Some were being beaten while they were naked, all sorts of things were happening to our young girls,” said Chikwinya.

“We have managed to repatriate only 70 and we still have thousands who are out there.  Some have been taken to Syria and some Saudi Arabia.

“They were being sold some for $3 000 and some for $500 depending on how they look.”

Chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs Kindness Paradza led the last delegation that received 21 trafficked victims at the Harare International Airport.

“The women spoke of similar stories of serious abuse. Within this group, two told us they were taken to Saudi Arabia,” Paradza told the Daily News on Sunday recently.

“They only escaped from Saudi Arabia after going on hunger strike and taken back to the agents in Kuwait, they later escaped from these agents and found refuge at the Zimbabwean embassy in Kuwait.

“But many more are still in Saudi Arabia others were transferred from Kuwait to Egypt.  It’s unfortunate we do not have an embassy in Saudi Arabia, so we have no communication with them,” said Paradza.

He said the Foreign Affairs portfolio committee also recommended that government sets up a “special fund so as to help the “stranded girls”.

Comments (5)

In the olden days we have heard of leaders who would sale their subjects to the slave runners, we have also heard of leaders who would accept colonialism, for small tokens like a mirror surrendering their people's independence to the imperialist. Leaders who would do what it takes to please their masters at the expense of the people. Now Africa have leaders who impoverished their nations hounding the people out of their villages in search of the so called greener pastures, Kuwait England

Ziggy Zigawo - 26 June 2016

While all the blame is put on high levels of poverty in our beloved Zimbabwe, The women are also to blame. How on earth you agree to be taken to a foreign place where you do not have relatives, being promised that everything is free. You need to think and analyse things. I know the pressure we have as women but, in this case we are to blame. How did you come to know these guys who promised heaven on earth. And when they talked you just nodded and said yes yes. And they say free air ticket, you say yes ye s yes, and they say free accommodation , and free food , free everything, you say oh I cant wait any longer. This should be a wake up call to everyone, there is nothing for free.

Viona Ngwena - 27 June 2016

Vanoda zvemahara kunge mapete

BABA TEN CEN - 27 June 2016

Kuda zvinhu kunge chang'ani bag

CHOKWADI - 27 June 2016

There's no need for insensitivity especially right now. We just need to empathise with fellow sisters. Yes, the bulk of them we foolish enough to be lured into the trap, kungonzwa kunzi ndege, greener pastures and being promised with all sorts of lucrative things in return--they gave in. This is a mistake learnt the hard way and it shall serve as a stern warning to others before it's too late. As for those who were brought back, I wish them well

Gulez - 27 June 2016

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