Sheila said she often lied in those phone calls home. She told her children that she was doing well, that she wasn't unhappy, that everything was okay. She didn't mention the lock on the front door that prevented her from escaping.During the day, Sheila was responsible for all the cleaning, cooking, and childcare. At night, she slept in a bed with her employer's baby. Sometimes she would be kept up until 3am to work at a party, rising again at 6am to watch the four children.She cried again as she recalled how her employer would call to her like a dog, verbally abusing her if she didn't come fast enough. "He shouted at me like an animal," she said.When Sheila's Dubai employer traveled to England, she was taken with him. Inside the airport, she was briefly given her passport so she could walk through immigration. It was removed from her again on the other side of the checkpoint.
'He shouted at me like an animal.'
The proposed legislation compiles offenses on trafficking and slavery, toughens sentences for traffickers, and introduces provisions for seizing their assets. An independent anti-slavery commissioner with a UK-wide remit has also been created, a position that will initially be filled by Kevin Hyland. However, the bill has been criticized for focusing too much on punishing the perpetrators while doing little to protect the victims.Instead of improving, the rights and safeguards for domestic migrant workers have been worsening in recent years. In 2011, the UK refused to back the "landmark" Domestic Workers Convention, an international treaty proposed by the International Labor Organization. In April 2012, the rules for migrant domestic workers in the UK were changed during an attempt to tighten immigration laws, and they were banned from changing employers. At the time, May said that this would stop unskilled workers from gaining permanent access to Britain. This tied visa system, along with workers' desperation to pay debts and keep earning money to send home, means that they can become trapped in a domestic situation, and are much less likely to approach authorities or report abuse.A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled Hidden Away points out just how vulnerable migrant domestic workers are, adding that as the abuse is carried out in the privacy of someone's home this makes it "difficult for (workers) to seek help, and for people on the outside to see what is happening."
'It's really hard when you're providing the caring role for the children, while being abused by their parents.'
Roberts said that at Kayalaan they deal with some of the country's most vulnerable. About 78 percent of the people who have come to them on the tied visa are not in possession of their passports. Around 71 percent say they have never been allowed out of the house unsupervised, while 60 percent earned less than £50per week. Many are in debt from their migration costs."I think the bottom line is there have to be laws to protect people," Roberts said.
'Why have they changed a system that worked quite well to a system that facilitates abuse and trafficking?'