According to Human Rights Watch, migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are exploited and trapped in forced labour situations. The report shows that the UAE government has failed to protect adequately female domestic workers from severe abuse by employers and recruiters.
This report describes how the UAE’s visa sponsorship system, known as kafala, and the lack of labour law protection leaves domestic migrant workers exposed to severe abuses. Related to that, workers, most from Asia and Africa, cannot move to find a new job without the employer’s consent, staying trapped in abusive conditions.
Moreover, experts stress that labour-sending countries have failed to undertake adequate instruments to protect workers against deceptive recruitment practices. In that way, these countries have failed to provide assistance to abused nationals abroad, the report says.
Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, has highlighted that without an adequate legal framework and concrete labour law protection for domestic workers, employers can overwork and underpay migrants, leaving workers at risk of abuse.
In order to understand this complex situation; Human Rights Watch has interviewed female domestic workers in the UAE, recruitment agencies and lawyers. Additionally, Human Rights Watch has sent letters to UAE ministries and bodies to seek information, request meetings, and present its findings. However, the UAE government has not addressed any domestic worker issues.
According to the interviews, domestic workers have revealed their conditions: they were not paid, without rest periods or time off, confined in the employer’s homes, with working days of up to 21 hours. Furthermore, workers have described that they were compelled to live without food, reporting also psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
Data show that 146,000 female domestic migrant workers, many from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Ethiopia work in the UAE.
In this framework, reports reveal that embassies or consulates in the UAE do not have shelters or adequate measures to face this alarming situation.
The gLAWcal Team
Friday, 24 October 2014
This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.