On TikTok, Kenyan woman shares experience of ‘modern-day slavery’ in Saudi Arabia

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“It is modern-day slavery. That’s what we go through, I can’t lie because of the way we are manipulated in some houses.” Our Observer Brenda Dama doesn’t mince words about the reality of her job as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. But in her videos on TikTok, the Kenyan woman uses irreverent humour to give a different perspective on the daily lives of domestic workers, who she hopes will find comfort in her posts.

On TikTok, there are plenty of videos of foreign domestic workers talking about their daily lives in Saudi Arabia. “So many domestic workers post videos about the suffering they undergo in Saudi Arabia. I said to myself: How about I come up with some videos that could motivate them, make them feel like they are not alone in going through such situations,” Dama explained.

The young woman uses the language of TikTok – short videos and dynamic editing – to recount and denounce the endless work days, the insults and the “kafala” system, whereby domestic workers must hand over all their identity documents to their employer, which prevents them from running away. “I have seen people go crazy. It’s obviously because of what they are going through here. Even if you are mentally strong, someone who comes here can go crazy after a while,” Dama said.

Her comments could have landed her in serious trouble with her employers, but that’s not the case, says Dama, who also hopes that other employers see her TikToks and realise the difficulties their workers experience.

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