Gulf: abuse of Asian domestic workers widespread

Filipino, Nepalese gov't sign accords for their protection

10 October, 18:28

Indonesian workers in Saudi Arabia Indonesian workers in Saudi Arabia

(ANSAmed) - DUBAI, OCTOBER 10 - Filipino and Nepalese maids are in great demand in the Gulf oil monarchies, but this is where they also suffer a range of abuses, from psychological and sexual exploitation to passport seizures, to being forced to work without rest for inadequate pay. Authorities from Nepal, which registered 82 domestic worker suicides in the Gulf in the past 18 months, and the Philippines, the country with the highest number of domestic workers in the region, are working to set up legislation to protect their citizens abroad.

The Filipino government reached an agreement with Saudi authorities on a minimum wage of 310 euros a month plus room and board, to be deposited in a bank so that employers can be monitored, and has raised the minimum age for a domestic worker going abroad to 23. A similar agreement is being negotiated with the United Arab Emirates, where the Filipino labor attache' is compiling a list of employment agencies with the worst abuse records. Also on the table with Gulf and Middle Eastern countries is an obligatory contract clause allowing domestic workers to go home in cases of political instability. This is because of the numberless Filipino and other Asian maids left behind with orders to ''guard'' property in war-torn areas of Lebanon, Bahrain and Syria, while their employers fled to safety.

Nepal, which in 2010 lifted a 12-year ban on its women working as housemaids in the Gulf, last week imposed a minimum age of 30 for women domestic workers hired in the region.

(ANSAmed).

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