I, Testimony - Collection of Testimonies from Returnee Migrant Workers from India & Nepal to Qatar
Brochure, Promotional Materials
About this brochure:
It is a collection of testimonies of migrant workers in Qatar.
Since 2014, six labour organizations from India and Nepal (GEFONT, NTUC, CFTUI), one domestic workers’ movement (NDWM), the Belgian NGO World Solidarity Movement (WSM) and the Belgian trade union organizations ACV-CSC and ACV-CSC Building – Industry & Energy (ACV BIE) have been collaborating on a pilot project of Migrant workers and Qatar. This project will map out how migrant workers in Qatar are organizing themselves through local support groups. It will look into the different communication lines between the migrant workers and the trade unions in the sending countries. Another goal of the project is to get a view on the actors that are involved, and so to better understand the migration process from Nepal/India to Qatar. This with a particular focus on multinational construction companies and how they organize their work sites in Qatar.
This brochure is as a first and very concrete result. It brings together some of the testimonies that have been collected through the project. The brochure and the testimonies remind us that migration is a very personal experience for people, for workers and their families, and even for the local communities they are coming from. Victims of abuses and exploitation often suffer personal dramas. But on the other hand we are also reminded of the resilience of people, the power of innovation and the power of solidarity. Despite the very difficult working and living conditions which these migrants are confronting in Qatar, they do start to organize themselves.
The project which is supported by ACV-CSC, ACV-CSC BIE and WSM contributes to the global campaign for decent working conditions in Qatar, spearheaded by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Building and Woodworkers’ International.
The brochure was first presented to the press and to the general public in Kathmandu, Nepal on the 29th of February.
A domestic worker's story
“I was finally able to tell my family the entire story, and how I was being harassed”, Lashmi
My name is Lakhsmi. I was promised by an agent to send me to Qatar and work as Domestic worker with the salary of 12.000 INR (170€) per month.
They took my identity card (Aadar card) to change my date of birth, masking my age of 24 to 27. The Agent told me that his own sister works as a recruitment agent in Qatar and that his sister will come to the airport to pick me. He advised me to say before the immigration authorities that I am visiting Qatar to see my Aunt and will come back within a month. I arrived in Qatar on May 2015, but instead of a women, a man approached me, identified me and took me to the recruitment office.
I was taken to the home of a family who asked me to work there as a maid. Four male maintenance workers were also living there. After three days, they all started abusing, beating and locking me in a bath room for many hours. They took away my documents, including my contact list of phone numbers. The male workers used to encourage a 12 year old boy to push me from the stairs, beat me, pull my hair, and started harassing me to satisfy them sexually.
I told them that I will meet and report those harassments to the lady employer, but they never allowed me to see her. At last, I was able to meet the lady agent, Mrs Kri**na V**i, and told her about the sexual harassment, abusing, beating and other things happening to me at the workplace. She very shockingly replied: “What is wrong in sexually satisfying your male co-workers and the employer, feel that they are your husbands”. She did not help me and the harassment continued, which became unbearable.
I requested the lady agent to send me back to my country, but she started demanding me to pay 190,000INR (2.700€) and if I can’t pay, I can’t go back to India. She contacted the agent in India and briefed him on my request. He asked the lady agent to shred all my documents. After a few days, I was allowed to speak with my family members in presence of the lady agent in the office. While I was telling them about the harassment, the lady agent immediately slashed my head to the wall and threatened me, telling me what to say and started beating me with a hard stick. The male agent who sent me to Qatar spoke to me on the phone and started insulting me with vulgar language.
After that incident, they treated me even worst. I didn’t receive any meals anymore, I was being thrown on the floor and severely beaten with legs and slippers. Small gold ornaments which I wore from India were taken away by the female agent and I couldn’t take it anymore. Due to my courageous struggle, this matter has been brought to the notice of the Union of the Andhra Domestic workers union, affiliated to CFTUI, and they has taken up the issue. The Indian embassy in Qatar was informed about the case and a case filed in the local Indian police station against the local agent who sent me to Qatar. Finally the agent handed over the passport, so I could come back to India. I arrived back to India on 17th of June 2015, after 27 days of work in Qatar. After reaching my native place, the agent keep on threatening me and demanded 190,000INR as compensation.
I tried to erase my memories about the harassment I experienced during my 27 days in Qatar. It was unbearable that I wanted to commit suicide, but when I thought of my one year old child, my husband and my family, I couldn’t go through with it. I told them the entire story and how I was being harassed….without them I will not be here anymore and tell this story.