Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sri Lankan maids face abuse in Gulf: rights group

by Lin Noueihed from Reuters

Abuses often begin with labour agents in Sri Lanka, who charge heavy fees and often misinform the women about jobs, it said. Once abroad they typically work 16-21 hours a day. The New York-based watchdog said labour laws in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Lebanon exclude migrant domestic workers from the protection offered to other labour, including limits on work hours, paid holidays and a weekly day of rest ... "Governments in the Gulf expose Sri Lankan domestic workers to abuse by refusing to guarantee a weekly rest day, limits to the workday freedom of movement and other rights that most workers take for granted," said Jennifer Turner, a women's rights researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW). More than 660,000 Sri Lankan women work in homes abroad, almost 90% in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon, the group said in a statement marking the release of a 131-page report on the treatment of Sri Lankan domestic workers ... The Saudi labour ministry has acknowledged that there are problems with workers' rights, but the government often also says that Islamic law ensures protection for both Muslims and non-Muslims and reminds foreigners that they are guests.

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