A Kenyan woman who had been sold to a rapist is thanking the heavens as that decision helped start the long and treacherous journey of bringing her back home.
Lucia Nekesa, 40, expected things to be rosy when she went to work abroad but that was never to be the case.
She had to endure 10 months of slavery in Baghdad, Iraq.
Speaking about her experience Lucia said
“NO ONE SHOULD GO TO IRAQ OR ANY OTHER MIDDLE EAST COUNTRY TO WORK AS A DOMESTIC WORKER.
WE HAD NO FOOD OR WATER TO DRINK. WE BEGGED FROM THE OFFICERS AT THE AIRPORT BUT THEY JUST LOOKED AT US IN DISMAY.”
She had been duped by an unscrupulous Kenyan recruitment agent into thinking she had landed a lucrative job as a domestic worker in Qatar.
However, she found herself in Iraq last November and would go on to work for as many as six different employers.
She did not realize she had been ‘sold’ to a cruel Iraqi recruitment agent, whom she identified only as Rahab.
“RAHAB AND HER BROTHER USED TO BEAT ME WHENEVER I WAS RETURNED BY EMPLOYERS.
YOU SEE, I GOT SICK FROM THE BEATINGS AND COULD NOT COPE WITH THE AMOUNT OF WORK THEY GAVE ME. SO THEY CALLED ME LAZY,”
While working for one employer, she escaped and reported her suffering to police.
It was futile.
The police only returned her to Rahab, who then sold her to another agent who used to rape her, she said.
“WHEN I ARRIVED THERE, THERE WERE LIKE 12 OTHER WOMEN THERE. I DID NOT KNOW I WAS SOLD. THEY TOLD ME I WAS GOING TO WORK IN ANOTHER BETTER PLACE. THE WOMEN THERE TOLD ME I HAD BEEN SOLD,” NEKESA SAID.
Two Kenyan women were among the 12. The two were also raped by the agent, Nekesa said.
Of her six employers, only one took her to hospital. That was when she complained of increased bleeding from her private parts.
“I WAS FORCED TO WORK NON-STOP. I WAS THE CAR WASHER, THE GARDENER, THE SECURITY GUARD, I DID ALL THE DOMESTIC CHORES.
THE ONLY TIME I USED TO REST WAS WHEN I HID FROM MY BOSSES TO TAKE A NAP FOR ABOUT AN HOUR,” SAID NEKESA.
When she managed to contact human rights activists Haki Africa, through her husband Gilbert, Kenyan authorities started following up on the case.
“THAT IS WHEN RAHAB STARTED TELLING EVERYONE THAT I HAD BEEN STEALING FROM MY EMPLOYERS.
THAT IS THE VERSION SHE USED TO TELL THE KENYAN AGENT WHO USED THAT AS HIS DEFENCE,” NEKESA SAID.
“None of the employers I worked for, ever complained said I stole from them,’ she said.
Rahab demanded Sh200,000 from Nekesa’s family to arrange her travel back home.
The agent Rahab sold Nekesa to demanded Sh400,000 for her release.
“Being sold to that rapist of an agent was like the start of my journey back home,” she said.
The Iraqi authorities had gotten wind of the agent’s operations and raided his office.
All the 13 women there, including Nekesa, were arrested and taken to police cells for three weeks before being taken to court.
They were charged with various offences including being in the country illegally.
They were sent to jail where they spent another one month while their travel documents were being processed.
“IN JAIL, WE WERE MIXED WITH PROSTITUTES, MADWOMEN, THOSE WHO SOLD THEIR KIDNEYS, A LOT OF DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. I LEFT THREE KENYAN WOMEN IN THAT JAIL,” NEKESA SAID.