UAE migrant domestic workers facing abuse: HRW

UAE migrant domestic workers facing abuse: HRW

[JURIST] Female migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are facing abuse and exploitation [press release], Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Thursday. The group pointed to UAE’s visa sponsorship program, coupled with the lack of laws to protect domestic laborers, as the salient causes for the current situation. The 79- page report describes how migrant workers, particularly women from Asia and Africa, are enticed to take jobs as domestic employees in UAE by labor recruiters in their own countries. According to HRW, workers’ new employers often confiscate their passports, withhold wages and impose harsh working conditions and long hours. The report describes the nature of domestic employment in the UAE, which applies to a large portion of these migrant workers:

Domestic workers are explicitly excluded from UAE’s labor law and from the basic protections that the law and other labor policies afford to most other workers, such as limits on working hours and provisions for overtime pay. Domestic workers have virtually no legal safeguards governing their employment.

HRW implored UAE to address these two factors and the type of oppression that they create for migrant domestic workers, especially when they are combined.

Domestic employment has traditionally gone un- or under-regulated in a number of countries. In August Brazil enacted a law [JURIST report] regulating its own domestic employment policies. In April Amnesty International reported on the human rights abuses faced by migrant domestic workers in Qatar. Last November HRW issued a letter [JURIST report] to the Labor Minister of Morocco, Abdeslam Seddiki, imploring the Moroccan government to revise a draft law before the Moroccan parliament regarding legal protections for domestic workers to comply with international standards.