we are workers
Listen at Piccadilly Circus
Listen at Piccadilly Circus
Sound by Amara
Listen at Piccadilly Circus.
Buses with ramp exits stop nearby and nearby Green Park tube station has step-free access. Piccadilly Circus and surrounding roads can be very crowded, especially at weekends.
You can find out more about the Voice of Domestic Workers here.
Sounds of a busy Piccadilly Circus with cars and voices fade in, and slowly out again.
Amara speaks forcefully:
We, domestic workers, we are the ones who were abused, we are the ones who were trafficked, we are the ones who’ve been exploited… We were the ones who have been beaten, we are the ones who had been raped, or… You know, they treat us like we are criminals. Yeah, we’re undocumented, but as if they’re chasing us. We need to hide, because otherwise we will be detained.
Well how about our perpetrators, that are coming in and out of the country? So I think that’s one of the things that they need to look at. Once this domestic worker has been referred to the NRM (National Referral Mechanism), make an investigation and ban these employers – or if they are here, chase them. Because they will have the record already. But it seems that nothing. Why? Because they are big people and domestic workers are just small. Where’s the justice there?
I thought I was finally free when I managed to escape. But it’s so hard. I was under the National Referral Mechanism of the Modern Slavery Act and trafficking law. But since I applied for my papers after two years of my entry here, meaning I don’t have visa anymore, I lost my right to work. So I am legally here, but I have no right to work.
Hestia just given me £5 a day allowance for me to survive. £5 a day. We don’t want to be treated like victims of trafficking, because we are workers. We didn’t leave our family to depend on the government here, or any support from any organisation.
It’s so hard to prove that we were abused. That we were abused, that we were trafficked, that we were… Because no one knew what happened inside closed doors, except from us the domestic worker, and the employer.
Sounds of Piccadilly Circus fade in again, and then out.
The place Piccadilly played a very special part of my first week here in London, because I been homeless for a night. Because I really don’t know where to go to. I stayed there where the statue of Eros. I stayed there for a night. I didn’t feel any fear when I stayed there. I’m just thinking that night ‘Who can help me?’ I didn’t even realise the cold.
Sounds of Piccadilly return.
I left the Philippines, my first overseas job, my very first time to go overseas, 2013. I applied in an agency where I thought that I will work in a Dubai palace. That’s what the agency told me. When we arrived in Dubai, the driver picked us up, got our passport right away, then he brought us – we’re two actually – he brought us in a… it says ‘Staff Accommodation.’ So we were locked up there for four days. I feel like I’m a princess, because the whole day I was just in bed, watching TV, here the food comes, someone will come, get the tray. The same routine, for four days. I didn’t have any idea that something is wrong.
On the fourth day, it was already night time when the driver picked us up again – another driver – picked us up, and said our employer is already came back. So we entered a very huge – it’s not a palace, but it looks like – it’s a mansion. The madam, she welcomed us.
At first, it’s fine. But as time goes by, she’s starting to be horrible to us. She’s already starting to shout at us. The youngest girl, she’s ten years old at that time. She always mixed up her pyjamas. There’s always the time that, even in the middle of the night, at one o’clock, the madam will call me and send me inside just to find the other pair. And if she’s really angry, she will throw everything at me. We started working at six o’clock in the morning, then we have breakfast at ten in the morning. We wait for them to finish their lunch at around five in the afternoon. The dinner depends on what time they will finish their dinner. Usually twelve o’clock, one o’clock in the midnight, so that’s the only time we can have our dinner. We need to keep their leftover food, so we have food for the following day.
I signed for $400, that is 1,500 dirham. They gave that salary to me, but every mistake, she will deduct it from my salary, and there’s times she will not give us our salary.
They brought me here in London 2014. I didn’t know which airport we landed, because as soon as the plane landed in the runway, there’s already a fleet of cars waiting. No one mentioned to us our rights here in London, our rights here in United Kingdom, so we have no idea.
When we left Dubai, I had a Samsung tablet with me, I kept it secretly. Because they already confiscated our phone. I don’t know what’s the wifi, there’s a password in wifi, so I really don’t know, but I really want to ask help. Secretly I talked to the teenager girl; she was seventeen or sixteen at that time. I said to her – I really didn’t want to make an alibi, but I have to – I told her that my eldest daughter is really ill, and I really want to speak with her. So, it’s a lie, but I just really want to get the wifi password, because I really don’t want to go back with them anymore, because I got so scared. Then the girl told me, ‘Ok, I will give you, but don’t tell Mama and Baba.’
I didn’t bring anything with me. I don’t have anything with me. I run away only with my pyjamas, I just put on my coat. I just go out of the house, I didn’t open the curtains, I just go out of the house. Then my friend is already there waiting for me.
It was just so sad that the landlord of my friend didn’t want me to stay in their place. So I really need to find somewhere where I can stay. That’s when I became homeless, and I reached here in Piccadilly.
Sounds of Piccadilly Circus return.
The Voice of Domestic Workers is continuing to campaign for the rights, freedom and justice for migrant domestic workers. That’s what we want. To be recognised as workers, and not to be recognised as victims and be supported for £5 a day. Because no one will live and can survive for £5 a day.
We hear the sounds of Piccadilly Circus for the last time.