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Abused Zimbabwean Girl Wants to Leave Kuwait

Most people who fall into the hands of traffickers are women and girl children.

A Zimbabwean woman has escaped from a house where she was living under harsh conditions in Kuwait.

Using an alias Chipo Sanyika for fear of victimization, she says she is now in a half-way house and is appealing for travel assistance to return to Zimbabwe.

She was assisted by the Zimbabwe Embassy to seek refuge at the half-way house. Sanyika is among hundreds of Zimbabwean women and girls that were promised lucrative jobs by suspected conmen only to find themselves trapped in various menial jobs, including commercial sex work.

“I ran away on Sunday after the kids went to school and the gate was left open by my former employers. I managed to find my passport and left with the money I received from last month. I had not yet received my salary for this month but the treatment I received was deplorable. I chose to leave with my life and health intact instead of waiting for my pay,” says Sanyika.

Twenty women have been rescued and have been repatriated with many others still languishing in Kuwait without any hope of returning home before the expiration of their two-year contracts.

Sanyika says she is lucky to have found her passport in one of the rooms where her former employer’s children slept and she contacted the Zimbabwe Embassy staff in Kuwait who were able to put her up in a half-way house.

She says her mother in Zimbabwe is unable to assist her with the money needed to purchase a one-way ticket, which on average costs $700.

“My biggest challenge is finding the $700 needed to buy a ticket to fly back to Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, my family is not in a position to help and I am appealing to any good Samaritan to assist in whatever way they can. My hopes to find a better future here have now turned into a nightmare,” says Sanyika.

Sanyika says she was required to clean a 15-roomed house by herself, was not given enough food to eat and worked undocumented hours that were not in accordance to her contract.

“I would work without any rest by the time I ran away my feet and hands were swollen but I was still required to do all the house work including handwashing soiled clothes and looking after the children. The salary I was promised never materialized. I was paid after every month and a half and only a quarter of what had been initially been in offer from the Agents that recruited me,” says Sanyika.

She says she had never done housework before and had been an entrepreneur selling second-hand clothing but the deteriorating economy forced her to take up the opportunity in Kuwait which she said looked lucrative in the beginning but turned into a nightmare once she arrived in that country.

“I know things are bad at home but I would rather be safe with my family in Zimbabwe than spend any more time here where I have been disillusioned, all I would like to do is to go back home and be with my mum,” she says.

Some women rights organisations in Zimbabwe last week protested against the trafficking of girls to Kuwait but their march was disrupted by riot police in Harare although the women have vowed they will continue with their campaign to ensure that the women and girls who are in Kuwait against their will are sent back home.

​Seven agents, who were involved in the scam, were brought before a Harare magistrate court and accused of duping the women and young girls by promising them greener pastures in Kuwait that never materialised.

The agents are now out on bail while some of their victims are struggling for life in Kuwait.​

Interview With Chipo Sanyika
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