But after about three months, the situation changed. And it changed dramatically.
Kiera, the pseudonym she now goes by, said she was in Dubai to work as the couples’ caregiver for their two-year daughter.
“They were so nice at first, picking me up at the airport and giving me my own room, days off and paid on time,” she began. “I knew from my other friends doing similar jobs that this was very good.”
But then, when the daughter began to spend more time at her grandparents’ home after a few months, the situation turned, and violently so.
“It was an early morning, I think Saturday. I was excited because I had an extra day off and was heading to the beach hotel with my friends,” she tells of the first day of what she said was “slavery.”
As she was showering, she said the couple entered the bathroom to “ask a question.” This was normal, she added, saying the mother would often come in and see how things were going for the young, 20-year-old.
“I didn’t think anything of it at that moment because it had happened before, but when I got out of the shower, I realized they had taken my clothes and towel. I was a little annoyed and let myself dry a bit. I was too excited about going to the beach for the first time,” she continued.
The young woman then said that as she went to her room a few meters from the bathroom she realized that the couple was waiting in her room, naked. She said she was stunned and began to become scared.
“I tried to run, but the husband caught me. The both then tied me to the bed and then the horrors happen,” she says here at Bangkok cafe, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks. “The woman would come over and insert objects into me as she played with her husband. Then he would start to rape me as she did other things. It was the worst day of my life.”
But it continued for over a year before she was able to steal a large sum of money and escape the city, heading to Bahrain where she was able to obtain a false passport and return to Thailand.
“I don’t know how this happened. I was a good worker and never talked back. Then they started to rape me and abuse me. I was kept in my room for days and days, naked and my food chained to the bed,” she said.
Her story is one of numerous stories of sexual violence and abuse of women working in the Gulf region. As a result of the growing reports of violence towards women, some countries, most recently Nepal and Ethiopia, have barred women from working in the Gulf.
For Kiera, she hopes the Thai government will ban all women from working in the countries.
“It doesn’t matter if we have a good job as a certified masseuse; we are seen as objects for men and women with power to do whatever they want to us. It happened to me and it happens to other girls,” she said.