NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Kenyan woman trafficked to Saudi Arabia is being held by a recruitment agency demanding $3,400 for breach of contract before it will release her, The Star newspaper reported on Monday.
Kenyans often migrate to the Middle East in search of jobs but are sometimes exploited in domestic servitude, brothels, massage parlours or in forced manual labour.
Teresia Njuguini, 25, was told she was going to work in Dubai as a secretary, her mother told the paper. But she ended up being abused in a domestic job in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
She worked for three months without a salary before being passed on to another agency, her mother said.
The agency is now claiming 300,000 Kenyan shillings ($3,400) from her for a breach of a job contract that was to run for two years, the newspaper reported.
"I don’t have that money and I’m appealing to the government for help," the woman’s mother, Margaret Nderitu told the newspaper.
"They are now giving very little food to my daughter. They are locking her up in the house and threatening to kill her if we don’t pay that money."
In November 2013, the Kenyan government lifted a ban it had imposed in June 2012 on Kenyans departing to the Middle East as domestic workers.
It has faced criticism for failing to adequately monitor overseas recruitment agencies.
In 2013, the ministry of labour reported that it had inspected 389 out of an estimated total of 500 labour recruitment agencies, the 2014 Department of State trafficking in persons report said.