Abuse of maids rising in Kuwait

2010-10-06 21:04

kalahari.com

Kuwait City - Abuse of domestic workers in Kuwait is rising, and maids in the Gulf emirate face prosecution when they try to escape, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The New York-based rights group said migrant domestic workers have minimal protection from employers who withhold salaries, force them to work long hours with no days off, deprive them of adequate food or abuse them physically or sexually.

"The number of abuses has been rising," Priyanka Motaparthy, HRW research fellow in Middle East and North Africa, told a press conference announcing a report, which details specific cases.

"In 2009, domestic workers from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and Ethiopia filed over 10 000 complaints of abuse with their embassies," she said.

The HRW data does not include Indian maids, who represent almost half of the 660 000 domestic workers in the oil-rich emirate. Domestic workers, almost entirely Asian, form one-third of the 1.81 million foreign employees in Kuwait.

The 97-page report, Walls at Every Turn: Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers Through Kuwait's Sponsorship System, describes how workers become trapped in exploitative or abusive employment.

"Employers hold all the cards in Kuwait," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

Not covered by law

The report was based on interviews of dozens of runaway maids at either their embassies or a small government-run shelter.

Domestic workers in Kuwait are not covered by any law to limit working hours or a rest day or even basic rights, the report said.

"They are forced to work for unlimited hours, 10, 12 or 18 hours with no breaks, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year," Motaparthy said.

Manik J, a Sri Lankan, said she had worked for more than 18 hours a day for 10 months, but did not receive her salary for most of the period although she worked for two families.

She was at the government shelter.

Twenty-one domestic workers interviewed by HRW said they had worked 18 hours or more per day on repeated occasions.

A 2004 International Labour Organisation study found that maids in Kuwait worked for 101 hours weekly, HRW said.

Abuse

The main abuses include physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delay in payment of salary, long working hours, no weekly rest day and others, the report said.

HRW said it interviewed 22 maids who said their employers or agents had physically abused them, and seven spoke of sexual abuse.

An ambassador in Kuwait for a labour-exporting country told HRW that, during 2009, the embassy received 950 rape and sexual harassment claims.

Mary P, a Filipino, told HRW her employer beat and insulted her every day, using degrading language.

"Sometimes my sir would spit in my face. My employer always called me dog, donkey... There was no day the employer didn't say these bad words... I have accepted this because I am the breadwinner of my family," she said.

Motaparthy said that based on HRW data, "each week, at least two domestic workers fall from high places," in apparent attempts to commit suicide to escape abuse.

The report placed the blame squarely on the so-called sponsorship system, which bonds labourers to their employers and put them under their mercy. It called for the Kuwaiti government to abolish the system.

The Kuwaiti government said it plans to abolish the system in February.

- SAPA
Read more on:    hrw  |  kuwait
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

The basics of BASE jumping
Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.