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Zimbabwe Returnee Promised Job in Kuwait Denied Food, Overworked

  • Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye

Police in Zimbabwe block protesters demanding the return of women stranded in Kuwait. (Photo: Mavis Gama)

Police in Zimbabwe block protesters demanding the return of women stranded in Kuwait. (Photo: Mavis Gama)

A young Zimbabwean woman who returned to Zimbabwe after living under difficult conditions in Kuwait says she was abused by her so-called employer.

Twenty-seven year-old Nyasha Moyo says she was promised a lucrative deal, which later turned into a nightmare as her employer reneged on paying her a hefty salary.

She is among hundreds of Zimbabwean women that were promised good jobs in that nation but were later allegedly turned into commercial sex workers and slaves.

Moyo says she was denied basic needs like food, time to go to the toilet and regular working hours.

"I would be given left overs on a daily basis and was not allowed to communicate with my family and worked long hours and with no breaks. The salary I was promised never materialised and I only received a quarter of the promised amount," says Nyasha.

Nyasha, who holds a degree from a local university, says she was prompted to make the move to Kuwait after being unemployed for a number of years. She says she had never been a maid before but the lucrative pay offered by agents in Harare who recruited her was irresistible.

Nyasha warns others thinking of taking up positions in foreign lands to exercise due diligence.

"If it's too good to be true then it probably is, I suggest people consult with Embassies that they plan to work in to find out what conditions are like in that country before accepting some of these lucrative job offers.”

Another 21 year-old lady who is still in Kuwait, Chipo Sanyika, says she will give anything to return home but currently does not have the $3,000 needed to buy a plane ticket.

She begged her employers to get her a phone after telling them she had a young child at home so she could communicate with her family.

"My mum has advised me to work for a few more months so that I can raise money to buy the ticket, the agent said once I have that ticket I can go home but my mum has been saying if she had the money she would have bailed me out but she can't because of the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe," says Sanyika.

"I don't even know which city I am in as I am consistently locked inside the house and work ungodly hours that do not comply with normal eight hour day I was told by my agent.”

Sanyika says although she and other young girls want to return home, some older women who have children and families back are being forced to stay and work despite the harrowing conditions.

She says because of these extenuating circumstances some women are now resorting to fulfilling their two-year contracts in order to look after their families back home.

Twenty of the 200 women that are said to be in Kuwait have been sent back home.

Moyo says her saving grace was the Zimbabwe Embassy in Kuwait which assisted her to return home.

"I sourced my own ticket and the Zimbabwe Embassy in Kuwait assisted me to return home although things are tough here I feel safer to be back with my family.”

Seven agents have been hauled before the courts in Harare facing charges of allegedly duping the women and young girls with promises of lucrative financial packages, without disclosing that they would be working long hours and that others might be turned into commercial sex workers or slaves.

They are now out on bail.

Women rights movements like the Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance and the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance says they will continue to fight for the women being held under duress to be returned home despite the intimidation they received at the hands of police Wednesday in Harare when they tried to stage a peaceful protest against human trafficking.

MDC-T legislator Thabita Khumalo told VOA's Women's RoundTable on Livetalk, a weekly women’s magazine programme which covered the issue Wednesday, that she will be engaging the International Migration Organisation in Zimbabwe to explore ways in which they can repatriate women being held against their will back to the country.

“I am touched by this issue and will work with other women rights organisations to approach the International Migration Organisation to repatriate those held against their will back home.”

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