Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Slavery Returns To Britain

But this is already happening in Canada.

Nannies and farmworkers
are considered indentured servants under provincial employment laws, and by the Federal Governments migrant/temporary worker program. At least in Britain they have called a spade a spade, this is just modern slavery.

Britain's shame: Modern-day slaves

This is the story of Somalatha, who is from Sri Lanka. That's not her real name -- and you're about to find out why.

It's a story most people won't believe could occur in modern-day Britain. Sadly, it is true. It happened very recently.

Somalatha arrived in Britain when she was 29 with a family for whom she had been working in Jordan. Her job was to be a maid. She had to work 16 to 18 hours a day, for which she was paid about $450 Cdn a month. In the first two years, she was not given one day off.

She was not allowed to eat with the family and had to wait for leftovers. If there were none, she was advised to eat onions and potatoes.

If any food was missing, she was automatically blamed for it, or even punished.

Somalatha had to sleep on a sofa-bed in the sitting room, where she was disturbed by anyone who came in late.

Friday nights were especially difficult since the teenage children would come home late at night and bring their friends, which would prevent her from sleeping.

Her employer deliberately let Somalatha's visa expire. Since she was without a visa, she could not run away. She kept asking for a letter from her employer so she could apply to renew her visa but this was refused.

Under current British law, women like Somalatha have a way out. But the government is about to close her escape route. Earlier this year, it proposed changes to the law that divides migrants into five tiers according to their perceived skills and the economic benefit they will bring to Britain.

This system makes no mention of women like Somalatha. But immigration officials have told Anti-Slavery International that domestic workers like Somalatha will henceforth be tied to the employers with whom they entered the United Kingdom, with no right to change employers -- no matter how abusive their treatment.


Slavery in Canada

Monte Solberg

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