One Way Ticket to Hell: The Untold Story of African Migrant Workers Trapped Under the Kafala System in the Middle East

Ochuko Joy Agbeyegbe, LLB, BL, LLM & Abibat Nasirudeen, OND | September 19 | 10:15-11:15 AM

Topic: Experience, International | Knowledge Level: Intermediate, Advanced | Location: TBD

There can be a world free of slaves. However, the most effective way to tackle a problem is to first address the root cause. The root cause of trafficking in Africa and most third world countries over the years remains poverty, with women and children being the most vulnerable (Allais, 2006). Will trafficking ever end without first eliminating or, at best, reducing the push factor? This presentation seeks to answer this puzzle. Third world countries have continuously failed its youth and young adults. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is 23.1%, while the World Poverty Clock estimated that 86.9 million Nigerians now live in extreme poverty. This makes it easier for traffickers to recruit desperate job seekers to the Middle East with promises of well-paid jobs. Kafala System is an employment framework that requires sponsorship for migrant workers from a nation who possesses substantial control over the worker (Hartnett, 2018). Oman’s Kafala System has more than 160,000 female migrant domestic workers trapped in beatings, unpaid wages, sexual abuse, and excessive working hours (Human Rights Watch, Oman, 2018). Abibat will take the audience through her journey to the Middle East and how she was eventually rescued by her co-speaker.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Provide insight into the history of Kafala System practiced in the Middle East

·  Analyze how the Kafala system serves as a gateway to labour trafficking

·  Discuss the leading push factors of labour trafficking

·  Make recommendations for reform to the Kafala System

·  Share a survivor’s experience

About the Presenters