Forced Labour Forced Prostitution Modern Slavery

Window Shopping: Stories of Women Sold at The Markets of Oman

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[Martyna Żuchowska]

Many girls are sold for as little as what’s equivalent to 14 USD.

When I’m travelling, I love exploring the local markets that cities have to offer. By shopping at these types of places you can acquire an understanding about the culture of the city, region or even country. I find this to be a great way to buy memorable knick-knacks and souvenirs for others. Something my young and naïve mind couldn’t comprehend being sold at a market is… women. Yes, real life women.

As disturbing and shocking this information is to me, it really isn’t all that surprising. Women are treated like objects in many parts of the world, and in markets in Muscat, Oman, some women are literally sold like objects or property. This Arabian capital hosts a place for women to be sold and auctioned off as slave workers.  

There are many cases where women from African and Asian countries are promised better paying jobs like domestic work in The Middle East, only to arrive and realise that they are being sold off as slaves. Some women don’t even have a choice and are just trying to save their families and themselves from poverty. These types of slave employers are known to, overwork their ’employees’ without allowing them enough rest, take away their passports, pay them under the promised wage or don’t pay them at all and in many horrible cases, various types of abuse occurs.

Many cases begin in Uganda where there is a growing modern slave trade. Some women are sold in Uganda but then resold in The Middle East. Monetary value ends up being placed on these vulnerable women’s lives in places like these, which seems extremely disturbing and awful but it’s only the beginning of a vile nightmare. Many girls are sold for as little as what’s equivalent to 14 USD.

In extreme cases, some slaves are abused and end up dying of unnatural causes. Unfortunately it gets worse; in one horrible case, a 22 year old women died after being sold off as a slave in Oman and her father was told by her boss, to pay up if he wanted his daughter’s body back. The victim’s father then had to sell his land in order to get back his deceased daughter.

In another disturbing case, a trapped domestic worker escaped her employer in Oman and fled to the police. The local authorities not only didn’t attempt to help the vulnerable woman, they returned her to her boss who then proceeded to punish her by beating her, locking the worker up in a room for 8 days and giving her only water and dates.

The governments of these countries need to police these open slave markets that allow people to be exploited and dehumanised. These women need rights that will protect them from the hell that is modern slavery. If these issues don’t get addressed, this brutal cycle will never stop and women around the world are going to continue being used and abused by the villains of this world.

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