|Shackles these days are economic based rather than iron|
Where do they come from? Well, it varies somewhat from country to country. Saudi tends to prefer Phillipino 'workers' for its hotel and tourist industry while the manual jobs go to Bangladeshis and Indians from the poorer states such as Goa and Kerala as well as Pakistanis. Most taxi drivers and menial task workers come from these countries.
In the United Arab Emirates there are less Phillipinos and more Indians, Pakistanis and Afghanis.
But, you will not see a sign of a shackle or bullwhip; it is a little more subtle than that.
The Arab nationals who 'employ' these unfortunates do so on a bond basis. That is,
I have met men who have not seen their families for 10 years or more and who have no potential for being able to afford retirement back home.
Even more sinister is the trade in young teenage girls from deprived parts of India and the Phillipines (these only come, I believe, from non Muslim regions). I have seen them, flown in by the hundred and lined up at Riyadh airport awaiting collection.Their fate is to work as domestic servants, Heaven help them! The term domestic servant may cover a multitude of sins, literally.
Of course, Kerala, Goa and the Phillipines are intensely Catholic parts of the world but there is no freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia and very limited access to churches in Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and other parts.
The long term fate of these girls is, I suspect, largely unknown, and working conditions terrible. I admit that I have no hard evidence regarding their treatment as domestics other than supposition based on Arab behaviour in other social areas that I have witnessed and hearsay from expats living in the Middle East.
It is a sad fact that Britain and the US subscribe so unquestioningly to the economies of these countries, due almost entirely to the dependence on trade of which, arms and weaponry is no small part.
The Phillipino contingent tend to me better organised and often have cooperatives (of a sort) that help to monitor conditions and, ostensibly, speak out against injustices.
They meet in small groups in hotel rooms on Sundays in Saudi where they go through the Mass, redolent of recusant times when a 'dry' Mass was all that was all too often available. If caught they risk deportation or worse, a public flogging.
I know of no Western organisation other than the Anti-Slavery Society http://www.anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/ that acts on behalf of these people, spare a prayer for them during Advent and for their employer/owners that they may become enlightened and give to these slaves the civil and religious liberties that they are entitled to.