Tanzanian women working as maids in Oman and the United Arab Emirates have been subjected to rape, torture and poor pay by their employers, a report by Human Rights Watch says.
More than 50 women interviewed during the research said they had their passports confiscated by their employers and were made to work 15 to 21 hours a day – figures disputed by the Omani labour ministry.
Around two in five reported physical abuse and the same proportion said they were sexually harassed or assaulted.
The Tanzania government has not commented on the findings that allege the East Africa country’s embassies did little to assist those who had sought their help.
Here are three of the women’s accounts, which include experience of sexual abuse some may find disturbing:
‘Threatened with acid’
Dotto told Human Rights Watch that she sold farm land she had inherited from her parents to pay an agency in Dar es Salaam a fee of 200,000 Tanzanian shillings ($90; $76) for her travel to Oman in 2015.
The 32-year-old said her employer physically assaulted her, forced her to work 20 hours a day with no rest and no day off, and paid her $130 instead of $210 a month as contracted.
“Because of no interaction with my compatriots outside I started to get mental problems. I also got headaches. I thought maybe I was going to become crazy,” she said.
Then the abuse started.
“I was ironing an abaya [a woman’s long, black over-garment] and it got burned. [My employer] became very angry, I tried to tell her I am a human being. But she didn’t listen, she started to beat me, and threw water in my face.
“She ordered her son to come back with acid. I ran into the room and locked the door to prevent the son from coming in.”
When she went to Tanzanian embassy for help, she was locked up there for six months.
She remembers at one point in May 2016 there were almost 60 people in the shelter: “We were not allowed to go outside. We were locked inside the room and kitchen.”
She said after she fled to the embassy her employer demanded back $1,560 paid in recruitment costs.
Dotto said the embassy official was “literally convincing me to go back to the boss. He said: ‘If you don’t comply, then they will send you to jail. It is up to you.'”
“I said, ‘How could I pay? I only worked two months with 50 rials [$130, £100] how can I pay?'”
She went to court six times to attend dispute-solution sessions with an interpreter provided by the embassy where she spoke about the abuse she had suffered.
“I had proof. I was cut on my back from the cabinet mirror and I had a ripped dress that I brought with me.”
In the end, the employer agreed to drop her claim, but Dotto had to pay $260 for her flight home.