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Thursday, May 23, 2024


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By Omar Bah

At least 2 Gambian women, reportedly trafficked to the gulf state of Oman, have appealed to the Gambia Government to facilitate their immediate repatriation.

The women were trafficked with the promise of well-paid jobs only to be told on arrival that they have been sold as slaves to some Arabs, who subject them to inhumane treatment.

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The women opened a WhatsApp chat group where they share their pain.

The Standard managed to speak to three of them directly from Oman and each of them told a pathetic story of their life in that country. Isatou Fatty said she was approached by a friend about employment opportunities in Oman with a decent salary. “So I just jumped onto it without asking questions, confident that my friend wished me well,” the emotional young girl told The Standard from her base in Muscat.  Excited and hopeful, Fatou said, she boarded a plane in late April 2022, and landed in Muscat to an unknown world.

“My friend then sent my contacts to the agent who contacted me and referred me to one Arab woman who is based in Oman. The Arab woman asked me to make a short video and introduce myself and the work I do in The Gambia. I made the video and introduced myself as a graduate and hotel receptionist. After receiving the video, she texted me back to say she will find me a job at a hotel,” Isatou said.

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She said the Arab woman then asked her to immediately work on her passport and she would facilitate all the travel expenses.

“Few days after sending my passport, she contacted me and gave me a date and asked me to start packing my bags. But the very day that we were departing at the Banjul airport, a concerned immigration officer approached us and advised us to be careful because the Arabs are not good people – he even asked us to have pocket money as backups but at the time, we were only excited and concerned only about going to our destination,” she said.

Isatou said when they arrived at the Muscat airport, a man came and asked for the name of her friend (Kaddy) and asked her to follow him.

“That was the last time I saw my friend because whenever I asked them, they would tell me she is in the capital,” she said. She said she later understood that her friend too was picked by a man and taken to a woman who will be her master.

She said she became a housemaid in two different apartments.

“The woman they took me to has two big apartments which I clean every day in addition to cooking and washing their clothes. I have to wake up at 4am and I would not stop working or go to bed until they all go to sleep. After two weeks, I was frustrated as I never thought I could go through this kind of treatment in my life. Even when I am sick, my supposed master will force me to work. This is a Muslim treating her fellow Muslim inhumanly like this. I basically do everything, I even wash their underwear,” she said.

Isatou said when she got fed up, she approached the lady and told her she wanted to return to The Gambia. “I told her that the agents I spoke to said I was coming to Oman to work as a hotel receptionist.  To my surprise, my supposed master told me that she bought me for 1050 Rea Omani (D100, 000) from the agents and I had to pay the money back before I could leave. At some point, she even threatened to sell me out to anther person. So, I am really terrified and I want the government to rescue us,” Isatou said.

She added: “In fact, one of my colleagues informed us in the group that she is forced to sleep in a toilet because the people she is working for said they don’t have enough rooms. This is where she takes her bath and does everything. These people are just wicked.”

Amie’s story

Amie Njie, a 25-year-old, who travelled to Oman five months ago told The Standard directly from Oman that she was promised work as a cook and a salary of 80 Rea Omani (D10, 000).

“When we arrived, I was taken to a woman and dumped there and when I woke up the following day, she started giving me instructions. She first asked me to clean the house, wash the cars, clothes and cook. When I finished, I told her this was not what I was promised but she told me that she had bought me from the agents. I worked for five good months without salary and I am locked in a room. Since then, I wake up at 4am every day and clean the two compounds; sometimes on three occasions daily. Sometimes, I will clean and my madam will come and ask me to clean it again,” she explained.

She said when her bosses are going to work, they lock her inside the house.

“Sometimes, I will cook food and at the end I will not eat because they will not allow me to eat with them. I will have to wait until they are finished, then eat their leftovers and if they finish the food, I will have to drink water and move on. Even when I am sleeping, they will wake me sometimes unnecessarily and their children insult me all the time. They want me dead but I refuse to die. I want to appeal to the government to as a matter of urgency to facilitate our return,” she added.

Fanta’s story

Also speaking to The Standard, Fanta Ceesay, who could be heard crying heavily on the telephone, said: “I am basically treated as a slave”.

“Since I arrived here, I have not seen the sun – I am like someone in prison. As I am speaking to you, I am very sick but they refused to take me to the hospital and they would not allow me to come home because they said they bought me from the agent. My lady’s husband is sexually harassing me all these days. If you report them to the police, they will tell the police they are treating you well and nothing will come out of it,” she said.

She said her passport has been seized. “I want the government to rescue us because we are facing the same problems. If they don’t, I am afraid I will die because I cannot cope with the situation anymore,” she said.

Amadou Chune, alias “King of Rhyme”, the man who is trying to reach out to the government to rescue the girls, told The Standard he has since reported the matter to the minister of foreign affairs, National Human Rights Commission and NAATIP and they had promised to do something about it. He said the government should look for the agents who are Gambians based here and Oman and stop these nefarious activities of selling our girls to wicked Arabs in the Middle East.

When contacted for comments, a staff at the Ministry of foreign affairs said they have received information about the girls but could not give further details.

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