Islamic slave markets flourish with high tech help

It has been going on for years; the UN says it is fighting modern slavery, and international civil servants are either corrupt or incompetent, because nothing changes. The BBC has discovered Islamic slave markets on Instagram and other applications.

A secret investigation by BBC News Arabic revealed that domestic workers are being bought and sold illegally online and that the market is booming, thanks to new technologies.

Go figure: it is the whites who are being asked to "repair" the slavery of the 18th century while turning a blind eye to the slavery of the 21st century.

Some of the transactions are carried out on Instagram, owned by Facebook, messages are promoted via hashtags and algorithms, and sales are negotiated via private messages.

Thousands of women are bought and sold as domestic or other workers.

Other messages are delivered by approved applications and provided by Google Play and Apple App Store, as well as on e-commerce platform websites.

"What they are doing is promoting an online slave market," said Urmila Bhoola, UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

"If Google, Apple, Facebook or other companies host applications like these, they must be held accountable.”

After being alerted about this, Facebook said it had banned one of the hashtags involved. Google and Apple said they were working with application developers to prevent illegal activities.

However, the BBC has discovered that there are still many related lists active on Instagram, and other applications available through Apple and Google.

Slave Market

Nine out of ten Kuwaiti households have a domestic worker -- they come from some of the poorest regions of the world.

Posing as a newly arrived couple in Kuwait, the BBC's Arab infiltration team interviewed 57 application users and visited more than a dozen people who were trying to sell them their domestic workers through a popular application called "4Sale".

Almost all vendors advocated confiscating women's passports, locking them in the house, denying them leave and giving them little or no access to a telephone.

The "4Sale" application made it possible to filter by race, with different price ranges clearly proposed, according to the categories.

"African worker, clean and smiling," says one of the announcements.

Another: "Nepalese who dares to ask for a day off.”

When talking to the sellers, the undercover team often heard racist comments. "Indians are the dirtiest," said one of them, describing a woman being advertised.

Human rights violations? The media don't care; they've decided that Islam is a religion of love.

The BBC team was encouraged by the users of the application, who acted as if they were the "owners" of these women, to deny them other fundamental human rights, such as giving them a "day or minute or second" holiday.

A man, a policeman, trying to get rid of his slave said: "Believe me, she's very sweet, she laughs and has a smiling face. Even if you keep her awake until 5:00 in the morning, she won't complain.”

He explained to the BBC team how domestic slaves were used as a commodity.

"You will find someone who will buy a voucher for 600 KD ($2,000) and sell it for 1,000 KD ($3,300)," he says.

He suggested how the BBC team should treat her: "Don’t give her the passport. You are her godfather. Why give him her passport?”

In one case, the BBC team was offered a 16-year-old girl.

Fatou is a victim of the slave trade from Guinea in West Africa and was a domestic worker in Kuwait for six months when the BBC discovered her. Kuwait's laws stipulate that domestic workers must be over 21 years of age.

Her landlord's sales argument included the fact that she had not given Fatou a holiday, that her passport and phone had been taken away from her and that she had not allowed her to leave the house alone - which is illegal in Kuwait.

Authorization of the slave sponsor

"This is the ultimate example of modern slavery," said Urmila Bhoola. "Here, we see a child sold and exchanged as movable property, as property.”

In most parts of the Gulf, "domestic workers" are brought into the country by "agencies" and are then officially registered with the government.

Potential "employers" pay remuneration to agencies and become the "official sponsor" of the domestic worker.

In the so-called Kafala system, a domestic worker cannot change or leave her job or leave the country without the permission of her sponsor.

In 2015, Kuwait passed laws to help protect domestic workers. But the law was not popular with everyone.

All over the Arab world

The online slave market is not only taking place in Kuwait but all over the Arab world.

However, to protect the image of Islam, the media and major international organizations are drowning the fish by pointing the finger at some Asian countries, incorporating the painful hours imposed on workers to a "form" of modern slavery. This allows them to help the Arab world save face, for reasons that are difficult to understand, since in general, the left touts the defense of human rights.

In Saudi Arabia, the survey revealed that hundreds of women were sold on “Haraj”, another popular application. There were hundreds more on Instagram, which belongs to Facebook.

The BBC team went to Guinea to try to contact Fatou's family, the girl they had discovered for sale in Kuwait.

Every year, hundreds of women are victims of the black slave trade from Guinea to the Gulf.

Fatou was found by the Kuwaiti authorities and taken to a government-run reception center for domestic workers. Two days later, she was deported to Guinea because she was a minor. She told the BBC about her experience working in three homes during her nine months in Kuwait: "They were yelling at me and calling me an animal. It hurt me, it made me sad, but there was nothing I could do. »

She is now back at school in Conakry, where the BBC visited her.

“My life is better now. I just came back from slavery.”

When questioned by the BBC, the Kuwaiti government declared itself "at war with this kind of behavior" and insisted that the applications would be "highly scrutinized."

To date, no significant action has been taken against the platforms.

There were no legal proceedings against the woman who tried to sell Fatou.

Since the BBC team contacted Silicon Valley applications and companies about the findings of their investigation, “4Sale” has removed the "domestic workers" section from its platform.

Facebook said it had banned the Arab hashtag "خادمات للتنازل#" - which translates as "#Housemaids".

"We will continue to work with law enforcement, expert organizations and industry to prevent this behavior on our platforms," added a Facebook spokesperson.

The Saudi application “Haraj” is still active.

Google said it was "deeply disturbed by these allegations."  "We asked the BBC to share additional details so that we could conduct a more in-depth investigation," he added. "We ensure that application developers put in place the necessary protection measures to prevent individuals from carrying out this kind of activity on their platforms.

Apple has stated that it is "strictly prohibited" to promote human trafficking and child exploitation in the applications made available on its market. "Application developers are responsible for controlling user-generated content on their platforms," he says. "We work with developers to take immediate corrective action whenever we find problems and, in extreme cases, we will remove the application. We also work with developers to report any illegality to local authorities.”

However, Apple and Google continue to distribute “4Sale” and “Haraj” applications, on the grounds that their main purpose is to sell legitimate goods and services.

“4Sale” may have addressed the problem, but at the time of publication, hundreds of domestic workers were still being exchanged on “Haraj,” Instagram and other applications that the BBC has seen.

PUBLISHED BY CHRISTIAN LARNET ON 2 NOVEMBER 2019

Reproduction authorized with the following mention: © Christian Larnet for Dreuz.info. Translated with the help of DeepL.

It has been going on for years; the UN says it is fighting modern slavery, and international civil servants are either corrupt or incompetent, because nothing changes. The BBC has discovered Islamic slave markets on Instagram and other applications.

A secret investigation by BBC News Arabic revealed that domestic workers are being bought and sold illegally online and that the market is booming, thanks to new technologies.

Go figure: it is the whites who are being asked to "repair" the slavery of the 18th century while turning a blind eye to the slavery of the 21st century.

Some of the transactions are carried out on Instagram, owned by Facebook, messages are promoted via hashtags and algorithms, and sales are negotiated via private messages.

Thousands of women are bought and sold as domestic or other workers.

Other messages are delivered by approved applications and provided by Google Play and Apple App Store, as well as on e-commerce platform websites.

"What they are doing is promoting an online slave market," said Urmila Bhoola, UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

"If Google, Apple, Facebook or other companies host applications like these, they must be held accountable.”

After being alerted about this, Facebook said it had banned one of the hashtags involved. Google and Apple said they were working with application developers to prevent illegal activities.

However, the BBC has discovered that there are still many related lists active on Instagram, and other applications available through Apple and Google.

Slave Market

Nine out of ten Kuwaiti households have a domestic worker -- they come from some of the poorest regions of the world.

Posing as a newly arrived couple in Kuwait, the BBC's Arab infiltration team interviewed 57 application users and visited more than a dozen people who were trying to sell them their domestic workers through a popular application called "4Sale".

Almost all vendors advocated confiscating women's passports, locking them in the house, denying them leave and giving them little or no access to a telephone.

The "4Sale" application made it possible to filter by race, with different price ranges clearly proposed, according to the categories.

"African worker, clean and smiling," says one of the announcements.

Another: "Nepalese who dares to ask for a day off.”

When talking to the sellers, the undercover team often heard racist comments. "Indians are the dirtiest," said one of them, describing a woman being advertised.

Human rights violations? The media don't care; they've decided that Islam is a religion of love.

The BBC team was encouraged by the users of the application, who acted as if they were the "owners" of these women, to deny them other fundamental human rights, such as giving them a "day or minute or second" holiday.

A man, a policeman, trying to get rid of his slave said: "Believe me, she's very sweet, she laughs and has a smiling face. Even if you keep her awake until 5:00 in the morning, she won't complain.”

He explained to the BBC team how domestic slaves were used as a commodity.

"You will find someone who will buy a voucher for 600 KD ($2,000) and sell it for 1,000 KD ($3,300)," he says.

He suggested how the BBC team should treat her: "Don’t give her the passport. You are her godfather. Why give him her passport?”

In one case, the BBC team was offered a 16-year-old girl.

Fatou is a victim of the slave trade from Guinea in West Africa and was a domestic worker in Kuwait for six months when the BBC discovered her. Kuwait's laws stipulate that domestic workers must be over 21 years of age.

Her landlord's sales argument included the fact that she had not given Fatou a holiday, that her passport and phone had been taken away from her and that she had not allowed her to leave the house alone - which is illegal in Kuwait.

Authorization of the slave sponsor

"This is the ultimate example of modern slavery," said Urmila Bhoola. "Here, we see a child sold and exchanged as movable property, as property.”

In most parts of the Gulf, "domestic workers" are brought into the country by "agencies" and are then officially registered with the government.

Potential "employers" pay remuneration to agencies and become the "official sponsor" of the domestic worker.

In the so-called Kafala system, a domestic worker cannot change or leave her job or leave the country without the permission of her sponsor.

In 2015, Kuwait passed laws to help protect domestic workers. But the law was not popular with everyone.

All over the Arab world

The online slave market is not only taking place in Kuwait but all over the Arab world.

However, to protect the image of Islam, the media and major international organizations are drowning the fish by pointing the finger at some Asian countries, incorporating the painful hours imposed on workers to a "form" of modern slavery. This allows them to help the Arab world save face, for reasons that are difficult to understand, since in general, the left touts the defense of human rights.

In Saudi Arabia, the survey revealed that hundreds of women were sold on “Haraj”, another popular application. There were hundreds more on Instagram, which belongs to Facebook.

The BBC team went to Guinea to try to contact Fatou's family, the girl they had discovered for sale in Kuwait.

Every year, hundreds of women are victims of the black slave trade from Guinea to the Gulf.

Fatou was found by the Kuwaiti authorities and taken to a government-run reception center for domestic workers. Two days later, she was deported to Guinea because she was a minor. She told the BBC about her experience working in three homes during her nine months in Kuwait: "They were yelling at me and calling me an animal. It hurt me, it made me sad, but there was nothing I could do. »

She is now back at school in Conakry, where the BBC visited her.

“My life is better now. I just came back from slavery.”

When questioned by the BBC, the Kuwaiti government declared itself "at war with this kind of behavior" and insisted that the applications would be "highly scrutinized."

To date, no significant action has been taken against the platforms.

There were no legal proceedings against the woman who tried to sell Fatou.

Since the BBC team contacted Silicon Valley applications and companies about the findings of their investigation, “4Sale” has removed the "domestic workers" section from its platform.

Facebook said it had banned the Arab hashtag "خادمات للتنازل#" - which translates as "#Housemaids".

"We will continue to work with law enforcement, expert organizations and industry to prevent this behavior on our platforms," added a Facebook spokesperson.

The Saudi application “Haraj” is still active.

Google said it was "deeply disturbed by these allegations."  "We asked the BBC to share additional details so that we could conduct a more in-depth investigation," he added. "We ensure that application developers put in place the necessary protection measures to prevent individuals from carrying out this kind of activity on their platforms.

Apple has stated that it is "strictly prohibited" to promote human trafficking and child exploitation in the applications made available on its market. "Application developers are responsible for controlling user-generated content on their platforms," he says. "We work with developers to take immediate corrective action whenever we find problems and, in extreme cases, we will remove the application. We also work with developers to report any illegality to local authorities.”

However, Apple and Google continue to distribute “4Sale” and “Haraj” applications, on the grounds that their main purpose is to sell legitimate goods and services.

“4Sale” may have addressed the problem, but at the time of publication, hundreds of domestic workers were still being exchanged on “Haraj,” Instagram and other applications that the BBC has seen.

PUBLISHED BY CHRISTIAN LARNET ON 2 NOVEMBER 2019

Reproduction authorized with the following mention: © Christian Larnet for Dreuz.info. Translated with the help of DeepL.