SEED supports clients from diverse backgrounds and is dedicated to taking a client-centered approach, ensuring each individual’s needs are met. Maureen, a 38-year-old woman from Tanzania, was placed in a household in Sulaimani, Kurdistan, as a domestic worker. After nearly a year, Maureen was forced to work longer hours than agreed upon, denied freedom of movement or choices in food, and not allowed to access her mobile phone, isolating her from family and friends. While still living in the exploitive home, Maureen managed to access her phone one day, and reached out to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for support, and they referred her to SEED.
Consistent communication with Maureen* was difficult due to limited access to her phone. SEED’s case manager supported Maureen to develop a communication safety plan, so that in case she needed support, and didn’t have access to her phone, she would know what to do. When conditions did not improve, Maureen was supported to understand her rights as a domestic worker and the options of support available to her. At her request and with her consent, SEED contacted the KRG’s TIP Police in Sulaimani to arrange a meeting and advocate for her rights as a person experiencing exploitation.
The TIP Police in Sulaimani acted quickly, and requested better oversight of working conditions for employees during a visit to the employment company. The employment company required the employer to reduce Maureen’s hours, in keeping with Kurdistan’s labor laws, and to ensure she had more consistent access to her phone. While these changes helped, the situation was still tense. Once again her case manager supported her to understand options available to her, including safely returning to her country of origin, if she should so choose. Maureen expressed wanting to continue her work in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, but in a new, safe household. Following further advocacy by the TIP Police, the employment company agreed to place Maureen in a new household, where she signed a new work contract in September 2020.
Maureen says she is happy and being paid on time in the new household. “They are good with me, especially the lady of the house,” Maureen told SEED. While many clients that SEED’s anti-trafficking unit supports desire repatriation, a few, like Maureen, prefer to remain in the country and gain safe employment elsewhere. In situations like Maureen’s, where re-employment is desired, SEED works with its partners to support the requests of each individual.
*Name and minor details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.
SEED’s anti-trafficking work is funded by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (JTIP).