Fajer Ahmed
By Attorney Fajer Ahmed

and human trafficking are widely condemned in all its forms all over the world, yet modern day slavery is still seen in many countries, and unfortunately for Kuwait, it has a few cases a year that can be seen as that. Modern day slavery is defined as the severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain, and unfortunately, some people have intercepted their severe experiences in Kuwait as modern day slavery.

As a lawyer, I receive complaints from expat employees with restrictions that may be seen as modern day slavery, like restrictions on their movement. One example are domestic workers who are not allowed to leave the house they work in, or employers who are illegally keeping the passports of their employees, non-payment of wages, or working long hours with no pay.

No day off

Question: My agreement states a day off weekly, but I am not allowed to take a day off, and I am not being paid overtime. My agreement says food would be provided, but no food is being provided. The manager literally wants to enslave us. This is modern day slavery. He collected our passports and visas. I am yet to get a civil ID and it's my second month in Kuwait. Anytime I ask, he keeps telling me a different story. What can I do?

Fajer: I am really sorry to hear this and I wish extreme cases like this are seriously criminalized. Your option is to walk out of that job and go to shoon (manpower authority) to file for your monetary rights and for your passport. I know it is difficult to go to shoon, especially when you have to work so many hours and when you do not speak Arabic. Please go to the closest shoon office and file a case. Take your agreement with you and any proof you have that you have been working for this company for those hours.

Keeping your passports and visas are illegal and the law takes restriction of movement seriously. Also, your employer has no legal right to hold your passport. I would highly suggest you contact your embassy too and explain to them the situation. I understand why this feels like enslavement to you, and many may see it as modern day slavery, but please understand you have the right to get up and file a case, even though this may seem so inaccessible to you right now. I hope the above helped. If you have any legal questions, please email me at [email protected]