Agents turn to sweet deals to lure women to seek jobs abroad


Zaira Chao whose sister is detained in Saudi Arabia with Fredrick Ojiro Odhiambo a Rapid Response Officer at HAKI Africa during a press conference. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Agents who link domestic workers with employers in the Middle East and organise their trips are using new tricks to lure women to take up the jobs.

This is despite continual cases of torture and killings of domestic workers in some countries. 

The tricks include issuing girls with short-term travel visas, changing the contract deals and promising them lucrative jobs.

This was the case with Salina Aziza, who left the country early this year to Saudi Arabia for three months, but has been stuck for 10 months now and counting. “We discovered later that an agent lured her with the visit visa but the contract she signed was two years. She was tricked as she told us,” her sister Diana Wanyama said.

“The last time she spoke to us, she had run away from the employer after being mistreated. At some point, she was jailed for three months. She was tortured and we have never heard from her since March,” she added.

The family said they have been reaching out to the government in vain since the agent that facilitated her travel and told them to find a way of getting Aziza back to the country.

In the past weeks, Haki Africa, a human rights agency that has been documenting the cases, said Kenyan women are enticed with sweet deals.

Worrying bit

“We have received many cases of domestic immigrant’s workers in the gulf who are being mistreated and others dying in the process. The worrying bit is how cunning agents are now luring the ladies,” Haki Africa’s Rapid Response Officer Fredrick Ojiro said.

“Another example is the case of Florence Adhaimbo who was approached by a tour company and was offered the opportunity to visit Lebanon then come back. Her documents indicated that a high end hotel had been booked for her and places she would visit,” Ojiro explained.

When she landed, Adhiambo was handed over to a sponsor where she discovered that it was a trick to deliver to that country, Ojiro narrated.

“She was in company of other six Kenyans ladies who were picked by other sponsors and according to reports we have gathered, they were turned into sex slaves,” the officer added.

He said it is suspicious that government officers at registration bureaus are unable to sense the tricks used by crafty agents. “The families are reaching out to us because the government has turned deaf years on the cases. We have the evidence of how girls are being duped to travel to the gulf countries,” he said.

“Maybe some government officials are playing ball with the agents because it is strange that we are losing young ladies yet the government has been promising to protect all Kenyans,” Ojiro added.

In some cases, the women who are lured to sign contracts which are then altered.