Marie's Story: Surviving human trafficking and domestic servitude in Syria
CONTENT WARNING: ABUSE
Marie* is a longstanding friend of Arise's network in the Philippines. This interview was conducted by Arise with the full participation of Marie's support network and at her discretion.
*Not her real name
'I want to tell this story about what happened in Syria'
Marie was recruited in Manila by an agency that promised her domestic work in Romania. As she had never been on a plane before, it was only after passing through airport security that she realised her flight was not bound for Romania, but Aleppo, Syria.
'But if we go back to our family how can we pay back the money that we borrowed? I can't quit, you know. I decide to go to Syria.'
On arriving in Syria, the receiving agency confiscated Marie's mobile and assigned her to a family of 13.
'They said "You cannot use a mobile here in Syria. Read your contract. Your contract here in Syria is 3 years. You don't have days off. You cannot call your husband, your family!"'
For 8 months, Marie lived in domestic servitude. She was verbally and physically abused.
'I work for 8 months and we don't have a salary. We are like slaves, you know?'
After suffering burns to her face inflicted by her employer, Marie was admitted to hospital. Despite death threats from her agency, Marie decided to run away.
She managed to get through the Lebanese border and find protection at the Philippines embassy in Beirut, before being returned to her family in the Philippines.
There are many like Marie.