Six members of a syndicate have been arrested for allegedly trafficking young Ghanaian women and men to work as house-help and shop attendants in Gulf countries.
Although the victims were promised attractive salaries ranging from $3,500 and $9,000 a month and free visas and plane tickets to those countries, some of them ended up being paid a paltry $100 a month.
They were also made to work to cover the costs of their tickets and visas.
The suspects are Alhaji Dan-Liman, 49, of First Class Travel and Tours at Abossey Okai; Matthew Milla, 35, of Darcam Mission Travel and Tours at Anyaa; Jefferson Amos Albright, 30, a Liberian, and Mitchel Berchie, 30, both of Starwell African Recruitment Agency.
The others are Georgina Adjei, 32, of Georgina Ventures at Ashiaman and Francisca Aku Begbezena, 30, a teacher who acts as an agent by going to churches and other places to recruit young people into the scam program.
So far, nine women have been rescued from Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and they are currently assisting the police in their investigations.
The police suspect that more than 1,000 women and men who were sent to those countries under similar circumstances are being subjected to inhuman treatment.
Victims have reported to police that they were subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, which resulted in the deaths of some of their colleagues.
According to the reports, some victims were made to work without pay while others were treated like dogs, their food thrown on the ground for them to pick up and eat.
Some of the victims, it has been alleged, were also used as sex slaves.
Others were made to sleep in small rooms on rooftops without ventilation. Some of these rooms were so small that the victims had to bend down before they could enter.
Of the syndicate’s modus operandi, the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department COP Prosper Agblor said that the syndicate ran radio programmes and advertisements to promote their purported service and visited churches and social gatherings where they distributed fliers to woo people to pursue work in Gulf States.
He reported that each week, more than 20 young men and women recruited by the syndicate and other tour companies travelled to these countries in search of greener pastures.
On arriving in those countries, their passports, mobile phones and luggage were taken from them, making it extremely difficult for them to call home and alert authorities of their mistreatment.
COP Agblor said that victims were made to work for hours on end without a break, after which many were given a morsel of Syrian bread as their food for the entire day.
Some of the girls, he added, were forcibly turned into sex slaves so that their masters could sleep with them at will. These victims were given uniforms to distinguish them from other people in their host countries, making it very difficult for them to escape because the clothes made them easily identifiable as house-help from a particular agency.
People who saw them trying to escape would often report them, leading to their arrest and subsequent return to their labour or recruiting agencies.
According to Mr. Agblor, some of the girls were made to rotate the families they served, working with one family one week and another the next.
At the end of the month, such victims were paid nothing because the employment rules, which demanded that workers only be paid by families after working for them for a minimum of a month.
He said that those rescued were a bit enlightened so they demanded to be sent back home because they could not stand the situation any longer.
But when they tried to return home, he announced, they were informed that their tickets and visas had been paid for by the recruiting agencies and that they would have to work to compensate the company for these expenditures.
In Bahrain, a Ghanaian pastor had to intervene to secure the release of some of the victims.