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Indian Workers Sold Like Animals in Saudi Arabia

On January 14, 2010

Earlier this month The Times of India published a story about an Indian worker, Habib Hussein who escaped Saudi Arabia after months of abuse.

Hussein sold his lands in India to pay for the agent who brought him into Saudi Arabia in the hope of earning a better living for his family. At first, he was forced to graze goats during the day and work as a cleaner at an airport during the night. He worked for 14-18 hours per day without receiving any money. Afterward, Hussein was sold, along with other Indian workers to a sponsorship agent in Medina. There he worked for over 15 hours per day.

Hussein described a modern-day slavery system: "Indian labour is sold in Saudi like cattle and thousands of Indians from UP and Bengal are suffering there. They are helpless without their passports".

Hussein survived on money of tips he received for helping visitors coming into Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj. For six months he ate nothing but one meal per day. He desperately wanted to return to his family and pregnant wife and from the little money he earned from tips he saved up enough so that he can buy a plane ticket. However, his passport was held by his sponsor and whenever he asked for it back he was "kicked and thrashed" by the employer.

Unable to exit the country legally, Hussein hid in the bathroom of an Air India flight and was able to return home that way.