ZIMBABWEANS have been cited among some of the foreigners being exploited in the United Kingdom’s care work sector, a recent survey has revealed.
The United Kingdom’s national helpline for victims of modern slavery report found that foreigners, Zimbabweans included, are being forced to work long hours and subjected to various forms of abuse.
“Women are disproportionately represented among victims of exploitation in the care sector. Between January 2022 and June 2023, 235 out of 378 potential victims were female. The most prevalent nationality was Indian, comprising 48% of all potential victims. Zimbabwe and Nigeria were also highly represented,” the report said.
According to the report, a quarter of the 1,5 million people working in the sector has no contracts, making them vulnerable to exploitation.
The report found that the average debt for recruitment, visa and travel costs for overseas care workers was £11 800, a figure that entrapped many who could not afford to settle the debt.
‘Many cannot repay the debt, making them more vulnerable to exploitation in the UK,” the report read.
“Financial control is rife, with practices such as withholding of wages, non-compliance with minimum wage requirements and, as already mentioned, debt bondage. Poor living conditions, confinement, monitoring and multiple forms of emotional, physical and racial abuses are frequently reported.”
Zimbabwe has been hit hard by mass exodus of health workers especially nurses and doctors who are leaving the country in droves in search of greener pastures.
The UK says its health system needs to fill posts left vacant after the death of several frontline health workers during the COVID-19 era.
Other desperate Zimbabweans seeking to escape the country’s never-ending socio-economic crisis are flocking to different institutions to train as nurse aides.
The Health Services Board in November 2022 said more than 4 000 nurses had left the country since 2021.