Technology giants Google, Apple and Facebook are accused of being a part of online slavery market. In an undercover investigation done by BBC News Arabic, people in Kuwait had apps on their smartphones which enabled them to buyers women available for domestic service. These women could be brought for as little as £3,000.
Urmila Bhoola, a special rapporteur with the UN told BBC, “What they are doing is promoting an online slave market. If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies are hosting apps like these, they have to be held accountable.” One market was also being operated on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) where sales are being conducted through private messages, the investigation claims.
BBC sent a couple undercover who claimed that they just arrived in Kuwait and were looking out for domestic servants. They even visited a site where women were worth more than others, as determined by their race. One advert on the app also described an African worker was ‘clean and smiley’, while another claimed that the Nepalese person who they were looking to sell, ‘dares to ask for a day off.’ BBC also found a police officer who was looking to sell his domestic help and described his help as ‘very nice’ and with a ‘smiley face.’
According to BBC’s investigation, the new online marketplaces are even surpassing traditional agencies thus undermining the conditions of domestic staff. This leaves various women and children at risk of abuse even though Kuwaiti authorities claim that they have certain rules in place to prevent exploitation and trafficking.