First Published: 2010-04-29

MidEast, Asia failing to protect domestic workers

HRW: reforms undertaken by governments fall far short of minimum protections needed.


Middle East Online

'Reforms have been slow, incremental, and hard-fought'

KUALA LUMPUR - Middle East and Asian nations, which draw millions of foreign domestic workers, have failed to take action to tackle widespread abuse of the vulnerable women despite recent improvements. Human Rights Watch said.

"The reforms undertaken by Middle Eastern and Asian governments fall far short of the minimum protections needed to tackle abuses against migrant domestic workers," the US-based group said in a report launched ahead of International Labour Day on May 1.

The report focused on Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Singapore. HRW said that several nations had made improvements but far more must be done.

"In general, reforms have been slow, incremental, and hard-fought," said Nisha Varia, the group's women's rights researcher.

"Jordan deserves credit for including domestic work in their labour law, but enforcement remains a big concern. Singapore has prosecuted physical abuse against domestic workers vigorously, but fails to guarantee them even one day off a week."

Saudi Arabia alone absorbs 1.5 million foreign domestic workers, and there are 196,000 in the tiny city-state of Singapore.

The workers come from Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and other countries in Asia and Africa, and their earnings contribute billions to their home countries, often making up a good chunk of those economies.

HRW said the workers are subjected to violence, forced isolation in private homes, excessive working hours with no rest, and unpaid wages for months of hard labour.

"Reforms often encounter stiff resistance both from employers used to having a domestic worker on call around the clock, and labour brokers profiting handsomely off a poorly regulated system," Varia said.

"Governments should make protecting these vulnerable workers a priority."

HRW called on governments to bring domestic workers under the protective umbrella of labour laws, reform repressive immigration laws that contribute to abuse, and ensure police and courts respond to abuse cases.


Rebels evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

In world first, flight to Israel crosses Saudi airspace

Saudi, US must pursue 'urgent efforts' for Yemen peace: Mattis

US, Jordan launch new counterterrorism training centre

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting