Jehovah’s Witnesses saved woman from ‘domestic slavery’

A victim of domestic labour exploitation had told her story to Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to the door of her employer, eventually triggering her release, a conference on human trafficking heard yesterday.

Tina Dia, a Nigerian who first came to Ireland to work as a 17-year-old, said she lived for almost four years as a virtual prisoner before orchestrating her release.

Now 24, she came to Ireland to work with an African family based in Dublin, where she was not paid a wage, worked every day, and did not receive any holidays.

She told those attending a student-run law conference in University College Cork that during her three years and 10 months at work, she could not stay in touch with her family, make friends or pursue her studies and lived in fear of her employer.

One day Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door, and she took the chance to tell them of her ordeal. They in turn contacted the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

“I just happened to answer the door,” she said. “I was mostly alone in the house.”

The conference heard from a number of speakers, including MRCI legal officer Virginija Petrauskaite, the director of Anti-Slavery International on trafficking in the international sphere, Aidan McQuade, Mick Quinn of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit from the Department of Justice, and Héilean Rosenstock-Armie of the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Delegates heard sectors vulnerable to trafficking and worker exploitation included restaurant work, car washes, and entertainment, including circuses. Mr McQuade said garment manufacture, particularly for young girls and women, was also a sector vulnerable to modern day slavery. 

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