Escape from violence in Kenya to domestic servitude in Amman

January 26, 2016

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Judy Cami was visiting a friend when militants attacked her family home in Kenya, killing everyone present. Upon returning to the scene, Judy fled, knowing only that what had befallen her family was the result of a conflict between Christian militias that included her father due to a financial dispute.

Judy fled to her friend’s home, fearing that she would meet the same fate as her family. Later, the friend connected Judy with an intermediary who said he could find work for her in Amman. When Judy arrived in Amman in 2014 she found herself working in a mansion, responsible for all of the many domestic duties.  

However, the difficulties of domestic servitude were insignificant when compared to the sexual abuse Judy received from the “Madame” of the house.  Failing to end the abuse by reminding the woman of the immorality of her actions, Judy demanded that the intermediary find her work in another house, a request he denied, saying that the owner of the house was now her work sponsor.

After three and half months of abuse, Judy fled to live with a group of Kenyan women who offered to help her until she got back on her feet. Judy is well aware that, according to Jordan’s migrant labor regulations, she is at risk of being arrested and deported to Kenya for violating the terms of her contract. Judy tried to resolve the dispute with her sponsor in order to find another job without breaking the law, but her former employer demanded 1000JD to drop the case. Unable to pay this astronomical sum, Judy decided to register as a refugee with UNHCR seeking protection.

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Although Judy received recognition from UNHCR of her refugee status, which theoretically means that she is protected from deportation to Kenya, her new status does not bring with it any material support or the promise of resettlement. Until now, Judy is continuing to rely on the benevolence of her friends for food and housing. “As you know, there are problems between UNHCR and the Sudanese. They have their own problems in Jordan so they can’t help me” says Judy

Judy, who speaks only broken Arabic, says that she would go anywhere to leave Jordan. “I have no plan, no work and no money. My sponsor is a problem, my country is a problem and UNHCR won’t give me anything. I have no vision.”