Pursuing a Dream, and Finding a Nightmare
In this Report, we have focused more attention on the plight of lowskilled laborers from developing countries, particularly women working as domestics. Many of these laborers, pursuing a dream of giving their family a more secure and prosperous future, fall victim to conditions of servitude in developed destination countries, including the United States. As we join faith-based, labor, and human rights communities which have been advocating for justice on behalf of these victims, we are sometimes asked: Why is the U.S. government placing household help on the foreign policy agenda?
In America, most of us are descendents of immigrants, immigrants who came here pursuing the dream of a brighter future. The dream varies from the simple to the sophisticated, but it is always based on hope and trust in the offer of opportunities afar. Contract workers, especially in Asia, have modest aspirations but they are the most vulnerable, due to the lack of protection and their low economic status. Unscrupulous labor recruiters, "manpower" agencies, and employers who prey on the aspirations of these workers, have largely gone unpunished for too long.
Nour Miyati's dream was simple: To provide a brighter future for her nine-year old daughter back in Indonesia. Working as a domestic for four years in a Middle Eastern state, she was treated fairly and was able to send money home to keep her daughter in school. But her luck ran out as a new employer, last year, confined her in his house, denied her pay, and tortured her. Injuries she suffered to her hands and feet resulted in gangrene that required the amputation of her fingers and toes. She is now unable to work, but she wants her story to be heard. This is the state of exploitative migrant labor practices in some countries today.
The 2006 TIP Report is dedicated to Nour Miyati and the many other foreign migrant workers who pursued dreams but found hell on earth. We pledge to give the voices of these victims of involuntary servitude the hearing they desperately need, through this Report and wherever governments can be held accountable for practices that foster modern-day slavery.
U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Linda M. Brown Megan L. Hall Gayatri Patel Mark B. Taylor Jennifer Schrock Donnelly Brad Keena Catherine Pierce Caroline S. Tetschner Anthony Eterno Carla Menares Bury Naomi Pike Jennifer Topping Edward Flood John R. Miller Solmaz Sharifi Rachel Yousey Eleanor Kennelly Gaetan Sally Neumann Jane Nady Sigmon Veronica Zeitlin Paula R. Goode Leaksmy C. Norin Gannon Sims Luke Goodrich Amy O'Neill Richard Felecia A. Stevens