Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking Towards Women: ‘The Kafala System’ in Middle Eastern Countries

  • Racquel González (Iowa State University)
  • Arwa Hassan (Iowa State University)
  • Maya Chadwick (Iowa State University)


What comes to mind when you hear of a working environment with regulations, sexual violence, racial discrimination, and the sale or exchange of human beings? This is not about slavery in the United States during the 19th century. It is the Kafala System, a modern-day slavery system, operating in Middle Eastern countries. Modern day slavery, or neo-slavery, manifests in many different forms, ranging from laborers enduring brutal working conditions and little nourishment, to domestic workers who are victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, while being underpaid and overworked. For economic advancements, many Middle Eastern residents are being sold into slavery to fuel their respective country’s industries. Women’s experiences are unique, as they are the majority of domestic workers, but are rarely able to speak-out about their enslavement due to censorship or punishment. This session will compare the Kafala System in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We will discuss what the Kafala System is, how it impacts individuals, and solutions to combat modern day slavery.



Published on
04 Mar 2022