Several United Nations Special Rapporteurs* released a statement last Thursday calling on The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to stop the trafficking of Vietnamese women and girls who enter Saudi Arabia to serve as domestic workers.
These UN experts stated that a number of labor recruitment companies in Vietnam target “vulnerable and marginalized” females and girls who live in poverty. Upon reaching Saudi Arabia, some of them are “sexually abused, beaten and subjected to torture and other cruel treatment by [their] employers.” They added that these women “were denied food and medical treatment, not paid at all, or paid less than stipulated in their contracts.”
These UN experts “urge Saudi Arabia and [Vietnam] to adopt effective measures and policies to prevent and combat trafficking in persons and to protect trafficked workers” in order to ensure that labor migration between these two countries is based on the proper observation of human rights and accountability.
They also said that they had received “truly alarming allegations” that some companies in Vietnam also recruited underage girls and misrepresented their ages on official documents. Illustrating this in their statement, the experts recounted the case of a 15-year-old Vietnamese girl who was physically abused by her employer in Saudi Arabia; she was also denied food and medical treatment for her injuries. The girl died before she could return to Vietnam and her family is unable to retrieve her body because of the forged documents submitted by the recruitment agency that hired her.
In their attempt to stop this growing problem, the UN experts urge both Saudi Arabia and Vietnam to conduct an “impartial and independent investigation” into the human trafficking situation and to look into the alleged collusion of public officials who may be involved in the problem.
The statement of the UN experts noted that between September 3, to October 28, 2021, around 205 Vietnamese female victims of human trafficking had already been repatriated. The experts reminded Vietnam to provide proper welfare services, legal assistance, and medical and psychosocial care to these women.
*Ms. Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
For the full statement of the United Nations, click here.