A Filipino woman who traveled abroad to work as a maid has come forward to share a harrowing account of how people who began as her employers stole her passport and turned her into a modern day slave. Speaking with BBC News, a woman identified as Mitos described how she escaped from her captors after three years — and the hellish conditions she endured up to that point.
“My job was to take care of them, take care of the house, take care of all their needs. They never allowed me to go outside,” recalled Mitos. “When they go outside, they have to lock me inside the house. I don’t have any privacy. I sleep in the living room. No bathroom to take my shower. My things are placed in the toilet.”
Her employers, she added, would feed her with the scraps left on their plates, and only allowed her to sleep two hours each day.
“Every day, 24 hours on call. No day off. No freedom,” she said. “They always verbally abused me. Calling me names. ‘Stupid, animal, garbage.’ I respected the family where I am working but they never showed me respect.”
It was after they forced her to move with them to the U.K. a few months ago that Mitos finally saw — and seized — her opportunity to escape. When her employers demanded that she fill out a U.K. visa form, they neglected to realize that the form came with a helpline for possible victims of human trafficking. After successfully contacting authorities, she was finally able to win back her freedom.
“I feel as if I’m flying up on air — like before I was feeling like I was carrying a heavy, heavy load on me,” she told The BBC. “Now that I’m free, I feel very, very happy.”
Despite her desire to return home to her daughter back in the Philippines — and the trauma that she said continues to haunt her — she explained that her reasons for leaving in the first place hadn’t changed. As her family’s principal breadwinner, Mitos said that she needs to try to stay in the U.K. to find a new job to provide for them. Asked about what she would say to any of the estimated 40.3 million people believed to be victims of modern slavery worldwide — 71 percent of whom are women — she called on her fellow victims to remain strong.
“Just continue to be brave,” she said. “Think of your family. Don’t do anything bad. And wait for the time you’re ready to fight for your rights.”
Watch the BBC News interview below.