Silicon Valley’s Online Slave Market – full documentary – BBC News Arabic | BBC Africa Eye

Silicon Valley’s Online Slave Market – full documentary – BBC News Arabic | BBC Africa Eye


In the Gulf, women, employed as domestic workers,
are being sold online, via apps provided by Google and Apple. It’s been called an online slave market. BBC News Arabic goes undercover in Kuwait
to expose this shocking and disturbing online trade. It’s an unregulated black market depriving
women and children of their basic human rights, leaving them at risk of exploitation and abuse. All made possible by the Silicon Valley tech
giants. What they are doing is illegal. If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other company
is promoting apps like these, hosting apps like these they are promoting an online slave market. In Kuwait, 90% of households employ a domestic
worker – that’s one for every two Kuwaiti citizens. The government of Kuwait passed a new law
in 2015, giving domestic workers more rights. Together we are stronger. And imposing stricter regulations on this
multi-billion dollar industry. But it’s generated a lot of controversy. These new laws have pushed many to turn to
a booming new industry, where domestic workers are bought and sold online. All you need is a Google or Apple smartphone. Ann Abunda is the founder of Sandigan. An organisation that fights for the welfare
and rights of domestic workers in Kuwait. Our BBC team pose as a husband and wife looking to buy a domestic worker. For their safety we cannot reveal their identities. We download an app called 4Sale, the most
popular commodity app in Kuwait, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Amongst cars, lawnmowers, and TVs, there’s
a dedicated section where you can buy a domestic worker. Our undercover team get ready to meet the
seller Our female undercover reporter stays inside
with the domestic worker. This policeman was knowingly breaking the
law. He was trying to sell us his domestic worker,
he had confiscated her passport and didn’t give her a day off. All of which is illegal in Kuwait. Over the course of a week, our undercover
team spoke to 57 users of 4Sale. It has an inbuilt feature that lets you filter
by race, violating Kuwaiti law and international law. The women cost between $2,500 and $5000 US dollars (or £2,000 and £4,000). Under Kuwait’s domestic worker law it is
illegal not to give your domestic worker a day off per week. It’s also illegal for the employer to keep
hold of their domestic worker’s passport. But it’s not only happening in Kuwait, and
4Sale is not the only app being used. In Saudi Arabia we found hundreds of women
being sold on Haraj, another popular commodity app. And on Facebook-owned Instagram we found
hundreds more. Many sellers used racist and discriminatory
language as part of their sales pitch. And in most cases, the women had no knowledge
they were being advertised online, and then sold. Since 2010, Ann’s organisation, Sandigan, has rescued thousands of women from abusive households. In Kuwait it’s illegal for a domestic worker
to run away from their employer. Ann was never charged with a crime. And since being released from prison she’s
dedicated her life to helping other vulnerable domestic workers in Kuwait. Under the “Kafala” system, domestic workers
are brought into the country by agencies and then officially registered with the government. Potential employers pay the agencies a fee
and become the official sponsor of the domestic worker. Under the “Kafala” system, a domestic
worker cannot change or quit her job, nor leave the country without her sponsor’s
permission. Apps like 4Sale, Haraj and Instagram enable
employers to sell the sponsorship of their domestic workers to other employers, for a
profit. This bypasses the agencies and creates an
unregulated black market that leaves women more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. A new ad appears on 4sale, an African domestic
worker for $3,800 US Dollars. Our BBC undercover team arrange to meet the
seller. Nothing can prepare them for what happens
next. We are shocked to find this woman offering
to sell us a child. The young girl seems withdrawn and confused. By employing a domestic worker under the age
of 21, this woman is breaking Kuwaiti law, and could face up to six months in prison. She had also confiscated the girl’s passport,
didn’t allow her any time off, or to leave the house alone, all of which are illegal. This is the quintessential example of modern
slavery. Here we see a child being sold and traded
like chattel, like a piece of property. Urmila Bhoola is the UN special Rapporteur
on contemporary forms of slavery. We see coercion and control being exercised
by the employer over this very vulnerable child. What they are doing is illegal. It is not only in violation of national Kuwaiti
law. It is a violation of international human rights
law and labour standards. We take our video of the young girl to Ann. Ann starts an investigation to see if she
can contact the 16-year-old girl, who, to protect her identity, we will call ‘Fatou’. Hello, hello sir. She alerts the Guinean Embassy to see what
they can do. The embassy needs her full name in order to
make inquiries. Ann asks our BBC undercover team if we can
try to persuade the seller to give us Fatou’s passport details. The passport reveals her surname to be ‘Bongono,’
and her place of birth Conakry, the capital city of Guinea. Now that Ann has Fatou’s passport she goes
back to the Guinean Embassy. She’s avoiding going directly to the Kuwaiti
authorities for fear that they could arrest Fatou for being in Kuwait illegally. We head to Guinea to see what the police can
do to help track down Fatou’s family. They don’t have any record of her going
to Kuwait, but they introduce us to Jacques, a policeman who has the same surname as Fatou. Jacques decides to take time off his official
duties as a policeman to look for Fatou’s family and see if they are aware of her situation. He starts the search among the Bongono community
in Conakry. Jacques continues his search amongst the Bongono
community in Conakry, but no one recognises her. Hundreds of underage girls are trafficked
from Guinea each year. It’s a lucrative industry for traffickers,
and a last resort for families trying to escape poverty. We arrange to meet a trafficker to find out
how a young girl like Fatou could end up in Kuwait. He agrees to talk to us as long as we conceal
his identity. As we’re filming, he spots two girls who
have recently returned from Kuwait. See this one too? There was nothing good there. We arrange to meet Nana, Esther and another girl, Biba away from the watchful eyes of the traffickers. Like Fatou, Biba, Nana and Esther were all
underage when they went to work in Kuwait. Biba, Nana and Esther met in prison, after
fleeing abusive employers. The three girls were bailed out by their families. But it’s estimated there are hundreds of
domestic workers languishing in prisons in Kuwait. We also show them the 4Sale app. Their experiences of being moved multiple times between employers without any choice bear the signs of being bought and sold using the apps. The majority of migrant domestic workers,
women workers, are extremely vulnerable to exploitation in modern slavery. They are in a strange environment, generally
unfamiliar with the language, not allowed to communicate with their peers and live in
isolation often with the employer. Here we see an example of how digital technology
is used negatively to violate their fundamental human rights and to cause harm. Google, Apple and Facebook all claim that
they prohibit modern slavery and human trafficking on their platforms. Google’s Policy Against Modern Slavery,
states that they are comitted to eliminating modern slavery in all its forms. Facebook’s own community standards say
they do not allow organisations or individuals involved in human trafficking on their platforms. And Apple’s App Store review guidelines
say that any discriminatory content including references to religion, race, gender or ethnic
origin are banned. But we found thousands of domestic workers
being illegally sold using discriminatory language through hashtags used on Instagram
and other apps hosted by Google and Apple in violation of their own guidelines, and
international law. Back in Kuwait, Ann is desperately trying
to contact Fatou. Despite sending the Guinean Embassy her passport
details, they haven’t taken any action. Ann’s colleague doesn’t want to appear
on camera. Now that Fatou’s been sold on, there’s
no way of locating her other than going to the Kuwaiti government. It’s a move that Ann has been avoiding,
as it often results in the arrest of the domestic worker. In Guinea, Jacques decides to expand his search
for Fatou’s family to the remote forest regions of the country where the Bongono
family come from. It’s a 600 km drive from the capital. We arrive in Mongo, a small market town in
Gueckedou, where many people are Bongonos. Jacques hopes someone here will know Fatou’s
family. Word spreads that there is a girl missing,
and the room quickly fills with people. Back in Kuwait, Ann’s search for Fatou has
also hit a dead end. With no other options we take our video of
Fatou to the Kuwaiti authorities to see if they can help find her. Nasser al-Mousawi is Head of the Domestic
Workers Office. It’s his job to manage complaints and disputes
between domestic workers and their employers. When issues arise, Nasser calls in employers
and their domestic workers for questioning. Taking money for the domestic workers, just
to transfer their residency. Actually it has been going on for a long time
in Kuwait. May al-Tararwah is a lawyer at Social Work
Society, an organisation in Kuwait that supports domestic workers. I think that the lady is not aware of this
being a crime. She’s not aware of it. So, she did it because she felt it’s normal
because she’s old fashioned and that’s how they think. Ten days later, the Kuwaiti authorities contact Ann. There is good news. They have found Fatou. Ann arranges to meet Fatou at the state-run
shelter for domestic workers. A government official is present and we’re
not allowed to film their conversation. There are over 200 domestic workers in this
shelter. It’s intended as a temporary place for them
to stay while they’re fighting court battles or awaiting deportation. An hour later Ann returns. Fatou told Ann she’d been in Kuwait for
nine months and worked for three households. But during that time, she had only received
two months salary. Two days later, Fatou was deported back to
Guinea. Kuwait is one of the countries that has by
far one of the most liberal sets of laws in the region protecting domestic workers. Under Kuwaiti law it is illegal to advertise,
sell or enslave a domestic worker. But despite this legal protection we see a
domestic worker and a child domestic worker being sold in flagrant violation of law. It leaves us wondering about the extent of
implementation of the laws that are meant to protect workers. And whether in fact any employers are prosecuted
for their violations of law. As yet, Kuwait has not introduced any new
regulations to tackle the online market in domestic workers. The policeman and the woman who tried to sell
us Fatou did not provide us with a statement and no legal action has been taken against
them. The Kuwaiti government declined comment further
on Fatou’s case. Fatou is back in Conakry. Her uncle and grandmother can’t afford to
take care of her so she’s living with an adopted family. Fatou didn’t want to show her face on camera,
but she wants her story to be heard. Businesses have a fundamental responsibility
morally, ethically and legally to make sure that under national law and international
law these apps are removed and they are no longer available to the market. If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies
are hosting apps like these they have to be held accountable. What they are doing is promoting an online
slave market. The online slave market is still booming. And there are still thousands of domestic
workers being bought and sold on Instagram, Haraj, and other apps available on Google
Play and the Apple App Store. Unless governments enforce their own laws
and the Silicon Valley tech giants apply stricter regulations on their users, this online trade
will continue, leaving many women exposed to exploitation and abuse. Following our investigation, 4Sale, the app
which was used to sell Fatou, removed its domestic workers section and gave us this
statement: Facebook, which owns Instagram, told us: But we found hundreds of posts on Instagram,
using similar hashtags, being used to sell domestic workers. Haraj, the commodity app used in Saudi Arabia,
did not provide us with a statement. Google told the BBC: And Apple said:

100 Replies to “Silicon Valley’s Online Slave Market – full documentary – BBC News Arabic | BBC Africa Eye

  1. Screw what the law says, if you do not know right from wrong in your own heart and make it manifest for the sake of our brethren your imagined higher status is rendered worthless in light of your actions…..

  2. Slavery is such a deeply rooted and essential part of Islamic society, it doesn't matter what apps you ban. To blame this on silicon valley is just ridiculous.

  3. My heart is so heavy. To imagine that we African are primarily the suppliers of our very own brothers and sisters to Arabs just like the historic days of Trans-Saharan slavery and Trans-Atlantic slavery breaks my heart💔. Unfortunately, very reason people are let out of their homes in Africa is primarily POVERTY. Most African leaders are callous, evil, inept, mostly bereft of any ideas for development and even sustain the little gains the few who managed to do something have. Oh my God😢😭

  4. My wife worked in Albania 5 years ago after they lied to her she was going to work as an air hostess. before we meet and got married 3 years ago, she worked in Albania and was slaved with her passport taken, no proper health care and food. slept on the floor for 2 hours and worked for 3 houses. its God grace she managed to escape and come back alive. I won't judge them but God surely will punish them. some of her friends died in the hands of there masters as they call themselves thinking they are superior. please be careful when you want to go to work outside your county. work hard from your country and let them come for your services from your country with the proper channel if they really want you. don't and never gamble with your life thinking they offer the best.

  5. What a lazy culture. Clean you own damn house…but seriously…this is truly sickening. What a horrible world we live in 🙁

  6. The apps are not provided by Google and Apple, the platforms are open for anyone to upload any app. It is like the robber used a Jaguar to get to the bank to rob; hence the company is responsible for the bank robbery. BBC as always reports like a bunch of idiots.

  7. Tha is God if what I think is correct. The app no longer is used for such inhuman acts. Kudos to this channel. Now it needs to be ensured that other apps don't support this.

  8. You can blame silicon valley all you like, but the issue is with Arabs and Islam and their low opinion of human worth. They'll find another app as soon as one is removed.

  9. what is wrong with these arabs? the entire lot make me sick as for google its an american corporation no surprise there its beyond sickening

  10. Islam is root cause of all our problems the world is facing today. If you honestly think for a minute then you will agree with me instead of attacking me. Muslims cannot complain because they are not considerate towards non Muslims. Then why should we care for them? Liberals and leftists cannot answer my question properly.

  11. I am glad Fatou's adopted family took care of her well. They seems worried for her too. Hope she can overcome her trauma.

  12. You don't see the big picture. These "people" from the video and higher up in the hierarchy (or rather, cu**s and bast***s) think they can buy anything. They got lucky that Europeans discovered oil below their otherwise worthless, dry and ugly sand filled countries. After that, they bought whatever they want. The "luxury slaves", Europeans and educated Asians for the complex jobs who nonetheless must be very careful never to step certain lines or the consequences may be terrible or even deadly. Then the gigantic amount of poor people from Africa and Asia who are traded with just like in the "good ol days" when there was no oil and America was a good market for slaves…

  13. Stop blaming the companies! The problem lies in Africa's uncontrolled, raging self-pity that leads to insane population increases! Africa is to blame, not Apple, not Google. Africa.

  14. 9:10…"it is illegal under the Koweity law ……" the "Koweity law" is a cover-up to fool stupid westerners as yourself to think these Bedouins are somewhat part of our beautifull global familly bull💩

  15. I am also Muslim but I hate Arabs for still being racist and call themself Muslim they are pathetic ignorant mistreaters, not a good Muslims who follow the teaching of Islam from our beloved prophet Mohammed s.aw peace be upon him who free a man for being slaved by his people so Islam does not allow any human being to mistreat his fellow human being we are all created by one god no one is more superior than another human being if someone comes to work for you it is must for a Muslim to treat that person as human being and not as an object.

  16. For as long as Africa and its leaders are unwilling to fix the quality of life for their people there will always be desperation.

    Desperation=Slavery.

  17. I cannot fathom what could make the middle eastern people so cold and inhumane. I don't understand the lack of regard for other people.

  18. This literally goes against Islam

    Arabs have always been racists
    From the dawn of man
    They look down on anyone who isn’t Arab regardless of religion

  19. The laws are merely a formality. They aren't enforcing anything. They are looking the other way while wealthy people are having slaves. This is disgusting.

  20. This is why moroccans despise Arabs. And still you have retarded moroccan women going to the gulf states only to cry out for help after six months because they live in a hell.

  21. First this is a lie they didnt tell you all details that is not a human trafficking….. and for those workers that all lying just fo back to your country we dont giv shit about you

  22. Arabs were enslaving black Africans before white Europeans even Mohammed had many black slaves…instead of taking dodgy investments from China we should access that type of money and invest in the youth,education health care etc…Africa stand up

  23. Thank you BBC. That's why journalism is so important. Thank you for doing the good work. It may have not stopped the problem but it's one step forward.

  24. Surely the big old BBC can get these girls out. They have leverage don't they or do The BBC just do these Docu's to make themselves look good. BBC do a follow up on how many girls you helped release. Same for the voice behind this. GET THESE KIDS OUT NOW BBC YOU CAN DO THIS STOP THINKING OF YOUR RATINGS.

  25. Head Domestic Worker Nasser Al-Mousawi man needs sacking he is doing a shit job by the looks of things. ALL HER MOVEMENTS ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH IN YOUR DATA BASE IS IT. LIKE WHO YOU KIDDING DAMN THIS MAKES ME SICK. THAT LAWYER WOMAN IS AS SICK AS THOSE THAT DO IT SHE IS STICKING UP FOR THE WOMAN TRYING TO SELL ON THIS GIRL. CAUSE SHE SAYS SHES OLD AND DOESNT KNOW THE RULES. LAWYER NO SHE IS NOT SHE IS AS SICK AS THEM THAT SELL THESE KIDS. WANT POVERTY COME TO LONDON THERE IS POVERTY HERE BUT I DONT SELL MY KIDS . SICK OF THIS SICK WORLD

  26. Is this the best you can do BBC.?? What a load of BS what have the tech companies got to do with this. They provide applications and its people that misuse them. It is no different to a criminal gang using a mobile phone to communicate to his team during a theft. Does that make it the telco fault, or Samsung or make the phone. Or should I blame you the BBC for communicating this to a broader audience putting ideas in others people's heads so they then go and set up similar activities in their countries. So now that makes it the BBC's fault. Please tell me where is your intelligence, at best you are just a bunch of hack journalists who can't even report something properly. No wonder you have such a bad global reputation.

  27. This has got to be one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever followed on BBC. Online slavery in this day and age? Using Instagram, Facebook, and apps found on both iStore and Google Play? Shocking!😱

    I am so saddened that today s I type this, someone, somewhere is being sold as a slave, living a nightmare with no idea of what will happen to them. :'(

  28. The real betrayal here is not that Kuwaitis or Saudis are trafficking children and women. No. The real betrayal is by the African governments who let their people travel to the Middle East knowing very well what their fate will be. These same African governments also fail their people by failing to help create vibrant economies where their people can get jobs. That is the real crisis here, and it is perpetuated by greedy, exploitative African leaders.

  29. this is why i say African union and all those bullshit agencies are useless and will also be subjected to western worlds… If the AU, UN and all those international organizations don't address these concerns who should???? Useless Organizations

  30. I do not blame Kuwait, I blame their mother nations. You try do this to an American or the British, fire will hail on Kuwait. South East Asia and African's have failed their nationals.

    Other nations take care of their own.

  31. Wow suprised to hear those two arab women in the beginning so suprised that they have to give their maid their passport and a day off a week … do u give ur passport to ur employers ladies ? Do u work 7 days a week ? Oh u r arabs ,perhaps u don’t need to work at all ,but it’s suprising to see them not having any empathy at all for a fellow human beings .this oil money has def gone into the heads of the Arabs .god def needs to punish the Arabs .perhaps take all their oil away and let them suffer the same lives as their maids ? Then perhaps they will understand

  32. Dear BBC, this kind of misleading title makes you seem cheap and sensationalist. Maybe like the Sun? I’m pretty sure this isn’t Silicon Valley’s slave market this is Kuwaits slave market. Are the people who make a technology available to all comers more responsible than those that sell THEIR CHILDREN into slavery??

  33. In a way these apps are helping the police to track the traffickers and victims down and trace them. Through these apps they can be saved too. Let's turn the table on them!!!!

  34. this is cruel and inhumane! many muslim outside arabs country consider people from these reagent as holy people and worship them. it's sad. there are still so many people still thinks working there are so much better and many willing to go there, many consider it as an honor to be able to work on these countries despite of the horror stories. here's a new topics for BBC to investigate, many people call it contracts marriages, it's where arabs men came to a reagents in muslim communities during idul adha months with cheap & easy plane tickets to muslim majority in asia countries, then marry a girl/girls mostly underage with a contracts with their family for 3 months or so, they have sex and have babies then leaves. there's a whole village of these kind of practices, it's shown by so many children with arabs heritage but with No father. many consider it a blessing. it's not a blessing it's just an excuse for a good fuck without these mens getting charge with rape/adultery because of the contracts. it's not okay, and people should be educate about this is not okay. it's not a normal things.

  35. When our leaders steal our resources, when Europe rape our resources our people end up in these unfortunate circumstances. The paws of these devils should have never touched the people's passports in the first place.

  36. To set the record, the biggest slaves live in India. Up to 30 million Indians are enslaved by their flew Indians. The way the BBC portrays the Arabs and Muslims (in many fronts) is very biased, that's why other people who even didn't meet the Arabs hate them. Imagine Israel occupying a country for over 70 years, and doesn't get that much criticism. Had Israel gotten 10% of the negative media reporting their Arab counterparts are getting from Western Media outlets, Palestine would have been free today.

  37. The entire African continent were enslaved by few European countries after all. France, Britain and Germany enslaved, sold or mascared more African than all other countries combined. My flew African don't get brainwashed by a 1 hr documentary. Take the Namibian, and Algerian genocides by the Germans and the French for example. To this day, the entire African countries' ecomonies are controlled by the UK and the French. That's why African people look for such bad jobs elsewhere.

  38. Google, Apple, Facebook, instagram…these media being a part of selling/trafficking human beings or online slave market doesn't actually surprises me…just bit shocked these friendly media flatform also has dark sides. Why the world would be surprised when the truth already is known "Heroineous crimes are done by rich filthy peoples". And that's how they get filled up.

  39. Why the hell didn't they just buy her, give her back her passport and give her money to go home or somewhere new where she won't be a slave? I'm 9 mins in and it's dire!

  40. Tanzania in 2015 banned Middle East job agencies because of abuse cases and trafficking that was happening. Good on them.

  41. I agree that some arabs are racist but arabs only make 17 percent of muslims. You also have to take note that arabs are racist to other non African muslims such as south asians. In dubia, saudi Arabia and qatar they have a racist Kafala system where they slave south Asian people which are mostly muslims. This has nothing to do with Islam. Prophet Muhammed freed slaves. You need to read the story of Bilal he was a freed by prophet muhammed and was the first person to read the call to pray

  42. You would think that some of these women would tell their fellow countypersons how bad it is in Arab countries and stay away!! It's not like it's a new thing, it's being going on for donkey's years.

  43. Imagine associating arab with muslims, you must be so dumb and ignorant. Allah literally mean God in arabic so even arab chhristians, jews and hindus etc say Allah.

  44. I knew a documentary like this would result to racist comments like always when it comes to people of colour, because lets be real white ppl are racist af. Clearly here u see arabs being racist. But my point is we can never document harsh realities of poc cuz without there being racism but whenever u see the same or worse issues amongst whites, ppl just trash talk those individuals, not the whole entire fricking race.

  45. Everybody comments on the Arabs, but not the facilitators, Apple and Google who facilitate this. That is what the documentary is about. They do not pay significant tax on their earnings either. There, fixed it for ya.

  46. Saudi women acting like if they are victims and not getting there rights , while the same women are slaving other women !
    I mean even the devil won't get this idea !!

  47. Just because a few drops are dirty doesn't mean the entire ocean is dirty – Mahatma Gandhi.
    Just because some Muslims or Arabs did these, doesn't mean all Arabs and Muslims are bad. Just because certain humans are bad not an entire race or a class is bad.

  48. NOTHING currently beats the US PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX's slavery system. Near-FREE labor from 5,000,000+ inmates for large US corporations to benefit from. Outside the US, the US mega corporations establish literal slave pits to manufacture products that are then sold in the US market at massive mark-ups.

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