Kuwait at mga domestic workers

The Human Rights Watch released a report last October 6, 2010 urging Kuwait to improve the way it treats domestic workers coming from other countries. Titled “Walls at Every Turn: Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers Through Kuwait’s Sponsorship System,” the organization also lists down problems faced by domestic workers coming from countries in South East Asia (such as the Philippines), South Asia and Ethiopia; these include being arrested for absconding their contracts even though they may have fled abusive employers. In particular, Human Rights Watch claims that the sponsorship system, locally called kafala and enunciated by a 1959 law, leaves these workers prone to abuse since it allows their employer-sponsors to decide whether they can change employers and cancel these workers’ residency permits. As the watchdog puts it:
“By delegating to individual employers the power to determine a worker’s immigration status-tying a worker’s ability to be legally present in the country to the satisfaction of her employer,-lawmakers have ignored the exploitative potential inherent in these regulations. Workers desperate to earn money fear retaliation, cancellation of their visas and deportation should they attempt to pursue claims of contract violations.”
Human Rights Watch recommends Kuwait to modify its kafala system by removing provisions pertaining to absconding; to include domestic workers in the coverage of a local law which stipulates an eight-hour-working day, provision of maternal benefits and access to arbitration mechanisms, and prohibit employers from confiscating the domestic workers’ passports. In addition, the watchdog also calls on the emirate to provide these workers adequate information about their rights and responsibilities and further monitor working conditions and compliance by employers. Human Rights Watch also calls on worker-sending countries such as India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka to inform these workers about their rights under Kuwaiti and international laws; strengthen their labor departments and embassies’ capacities to assist workers being abused by employers and raising these concerns to Kuwait’s attention
The study was the result of interviews by Human Rights Watch with domestic workers, some diplomatic officials from their countries of origin, and,representatives of non-government organizations,


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