Modern Slaves: Domestic Migrant Workers in Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia
April 5, 2012
The journal stories are shocking: Man stapled lassie several times and left her disfigured…Heated nails beaten into Sri Lankan maid…Housemaid plunges to her genocide from Sharjah tower…Ethiopian domestic workman beaten on camera commits suicide…
Open any journal in Lebanon or a countries of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and we will expected find identical stories of domestic workers who have run divided or committed self-murder as a outcome of delinquent wages, capture to a house, miss of food or sleep, burdensome work hours and/or verbal, earthy or passionate abuse by their sponsors.
Scope of a Problem
Employment opportunities in a Gulf attract as many as 3 million women from a building countries of South Asia each year. The International Labor Organization (ILO), a U.N. group dedicated to workers’ rights, estimates that Arab countries horde some-more than 20 million migrant workers in all, one third of them women entrance from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, a Philippines and Ethiopia. Typically, these women find jobs by labor recruiters in their home countries. Although some recruitment firms are legitimate, many others are not protected and have been famous to pretence women with false promises. Quite often, once these women arrive in their horde countries to work as housemaids, they learn that labor laws do not request to them and that there is small assistance accessible if they feel exploited or disregarded in any way.
And so before a work has begun, migrant domestic workers find themselves gladdened to a grade of desperation. – U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Jun 27, 2011
Shackles of ‘kafala’
Nadim Houry,deputy executive of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa multiplication and executive of HRW’s Beirut office, says domestic workers in a Middle East are generally recruited by a “kafala” complement – a authorised sponsorship that ties a use and a residency of a domestic workman to a specific employer. The complement requires all inexperienced laborers to have an in-country sponsor, customarily their employer, who is obliged for their visa and authorised status.
Anita Verma was discovered by a BCHR’s Migrant Workers’ Group in Oct 2003 with serious facial bruising, conduct wounds and browns on her physique (photo, pleasantness BHRC).
This use has been decried by human rights organizations for formulating easy opportunities for a exploitation of workers, as many employers take divided passports and abuse their workers with small possibility of authorised repercussions. As Houri puts it, “Housemaids can’t leave their employers or switch jobs. The employer fundamentally says, ‘Look, I’ve had to make an upfront investment to move we over, we have to compensate a agent’s fees, and so we need to’ – quote, unquote, this is how they contend it – ‘protect my investment.’”
Some employers secrete salaries for months – even years – during a time, until a “debt” is paid off. Many increase it to embody food, wardrobe and other expenses.
Working uncertain hours
A 2001 ILO survey of migrant domestic workers in Kuwait found that housemaids were operative an normal of between 78 to 100 hours a week cleaning house, cooking and caring for children – and infrequently doing additional avocation in a houses of their sponsors’ relatives.
They work for uncertain hours. They are not means to use their possess sacrament freely, they are not given days off and there are cases of non-payment of salaries… in addition, some-more than 40% news physical, written or passionate abuse. — Bahrain Commission on Human Rights
Making matters worse, sponsors customarily control migrant workers’ passports. “This creates it really tough for domestic workers,” Houry says. “They remove that residency standing if they ‘run away’ from their employer and they face apprehension and probable deportation.”
Does kafala afterwards fundamentally volume to forced labor? “Yes,” says Houry, “it does foster and lead to situations same to indentured labor, in many, many situations.”
Few get lucky
Francis, 30, a lassie from a Philippines who fled her Jordanian employer’s home 6 months ago is seen in a groundwork preserve during a Philippines Embassy, display her branded arm in Amman, Jordan Dec. 17, 2008 (AP photo).
Marguerite (not her genuine name) uses stronger vernacular to report a kafala system. She is a chairperson of GABRIELA UAE, a section of a Phillipine women’s organization that works to foster women’s rights. “Housemaids,” she says, “are not personal as laborers. They are personal like slaves.”
She cites a box of a immature housemaid GABRIELA UAE recently helped out of a formidable situation. “The unite didn’t [pay] her income for roughly 8 months and he was perplexing to rape a girl. What a lady told me, she was sleeping with a blade underneath her pillow.”
Marguerite suggested a lady opposite defending herself. “Either she would be stabbed herself or, if she harmed her sponsor, she would finish adult in prison” Instead, Marguerite suggested her to mangle a obtuse law: Run divided – true to a Philippine Consulate in a UAE. The rights workman afterwards assisted a lady in essay an confirmation – but which, a consulate would not be means to act.
Luckily, things incited out good for this sold immature housemaid. “The employers had to compensate behind all a salary,” Marguerite said. “And they had to buy a craft sheet for her.”
But Marguerite says not all runaways are so lucky. She guesses that as many as a hundred Philippine runaways are now in jail in a UAE – “maybe more.”
The 2003 United Nations International Convention on a Protection of a Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is an general agreement ruling a insurance of migrant workers and families. It aims to safeguard that migrants suffer a same rights and work conditions as do nationals – including protected vital and operative conditions, insurance from earthy and mental abuse, leisure of suspicion and religion, entrance to information per their rights, entrance to legal, preparation and amicable services, and a right to attend in trade unions.
So distant among Arab states, usually Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Syria have signed a Convention. According to Human Rights Watch, Jordan has done a many poignant swell in safeguarding domestic workers, amending a labor laws to pledge them unchanging salaries, days off, paid ill leave, vacations and a limit of 10-hour workdays. Other countries contend they are deliberation – or in a routine of changing their laws.
Nadim Houry places a shortcoming for safeguarding migrant workers precisely in a laps of governments. “If there were transparent laws, in terms of labor regulations,” Houry says, “if there were charge of employers who obstruct workers to a residence and don’t let them out, we consider we would see an involuntary change in behavior.”
After all, says Houry, it’s one thing to teach employers. But for real, durability change to occur, employers contingency be done to commend that what they are doing is a defilement of simple tellurian leisure – and that this defilement will not go unpunished.
Posted on April 5, 2012, in AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA ENGLISH, WORLD NEWS and tagged Employment, Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch, Lebanon, Maid, Middle East, Nepal, Sri Lanka. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.