[email protected] via list.jca.apc.org
Foreign circus artist, who claims she is a victim of unpaid wages, has been left homeless after being thrown out of her apartment in Tubli, Bahrain, on Sunday night, it has emerged.
Serbian dancer and choreographer Aleksandra Bjelajac also claimed she is suffering from ailment due to poor living conditions.
The 41-year-old is also reportedly “illegal” and has been “blacklisted” after her sponsors failed to renew her residency.
One of eight artists hired by two Bahraini brothers to perform at a local event last year, Ms Bjelajac has filed complaints at the Labour and Social Development Ministry, the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) and the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA).
While all her companions left in July last year, Ms Bjelajac decided to stay back and fight her case.
After being thrown out of her apartment, she reached out to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) expat protection centre in Sehla and to the General Federation for Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) yesterday to find shelter.
An LMRA spokeswoman told the GDN yesterday that the authority did not discuss shelter cases with the media.
However, it assured of all possible assistance in eligible cases.
“Details of the cases are protected by law. Any case of a victim or a potential victim will be dealt with by the centre. However, the centre is not an accommodation option for non-victims,” she said.
Ms Bjelajac claimed she and her fellow artists from Serbia and Ukraine came to Bahrain on business visas, but their contract terms were violated.
“I decided to fight my case legally with a complaint at the Labour Ministry in October and the case is now in court,” she told the GDN.
“I filed another complaint at the NIHR last month and the BTEA. I have also sought an audience with Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities president Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa.”
She said she tried to apply for a flexi-visa and was trying to somehow survive, when she was asked to vacate her apartment because of overdue rent.
“I don’t know where to go or what to do; I really need some urgent help because I am a victim of human trafficking.”
Ms Bjelajac was on her way to Vietnam when she was offered a job in Bahrain by a friend. She arrived in March and was hired to perform an LED bubble dance in front of a circus tent twice daily.
However, she claimed she was forced to perform on the centre stage and was not paid any of the promised $900 monthly salary.
“None of the terms in a confirmation letter through an agent in Serbia who liaised with the Bahraini sponsors were honoured,” claimed Ms Bjelajac.
“I have been struggling to survive with support from good Bahraini friends and I agreed to pay the rent in instalments.
“But I was suddenly literally thrown out, with the landlord saying he could not accommodate me any longer.
“I am now homeless. I approached the LMRA expat protection centre shelter and waiting for their call.
“I came to Bahrain healthy, strong and joyful, ready to share my art but I got trauma and my peace and freedom have been disrupted.
“I was given a business visa instead of a work visa, and recently I realised this was to prevent proof of any work relation between the sponsors and me.
“I worked as a slave for four months, but everything was different from what was agreed.
“I also lost my online job because the fast speed Internet connection as promised was not provided.
“My immediate goal is to find shelter and a decent job, while fighting my case. That’s why I have applied for a flexi-permit.”
GFBTU representative Karim Radhi said “loopholes” in the labour law failed to address such “unique jobs”.
“These kinds of jobs have no clear contract, job terms or working hours.
“We are trying to assist her in accordance with the law.”
The employers could not be reached for comment.
from [email protected] via migrant forum of Asia