Migrant Rights

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

April 2010: Another Bloody Month for Migrant Workers in Kuwait

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May 8 2010

Migrant workers continue to commit suicide at an alarming rate in Kuwait, as a close examination of Kuwaiti papers for the month of April 2010 shows. During this time period, there have 12 reported cases of suicide and suicide attempt by migrant workers in the emirate. Previously, during 35 surveyed days in late February - March, a migrant worker committed suicide every two days in Kuwait. Workers are often driven to suicide by harsh living and working conditions, abuse and non-payment of wages. During the same month, the Kuwaiti police uncovered several cases of rape, torture and human trafficking of migrant domestic workers.

On April 4 in was reported that a Jordanian man (57) "fell" from the fourth floor of a building in an undisclosed location. On April 6, a 32-year-old Bangladeshi ended his life by hanging himself off a tree in Abu Halifa. On the next day an Asian maid jumped to her death from the 3rd floor of a building in Umm Al-Haiman, Kuwait. She suffered multiple fractures all over her body and died in the hospital. On the same day, an Asian maid attempted suicide in Hawalli by slitting her wrists. On the next day a 48-year-old Egyptian worker was admitted to the hospital after drinking insecticide in a bid to end his life in his sponsor's farm in Abdally.

On April 12, an Indian shepherd killed himself by hanging outside his sponsor's tent in Salmi. On the next day, a 39-year-old Indian worker "fell" from the roof of the Al-Sabah Cooperative Society and sustained numerous injuries. On the same day a Egyptian worker fell to his death in West Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. On the next day, an Asian man hanged himself to death in the Salmi labor camp.

On April 25, a Nepalese maid committed suicide in her sponsor's house in the Qasser area. On the next day a 33-year-old Nepalese maid hung herself to death. The report claims that the maid had mental problems and that her salary was delayed only for two days. On the same day, a Sri Lankan man (22) attempted to end his life by drinking a cleaning liquid at the intersection of Abu Halifa Bridge and Al-Fahaheel Express Highway.

In April, several cases of torture, kidnapping, rape and forced prostitution of migrant domestic workers were also revealed in Kuwait.

On April 10, Arab Times reported about the kidnapping and rape of an Indonesian maid by a Kuwaiti policemen. On April 15, a housemaid reported her sponsor to the police for beating her after she refused to sleep with him. Three days after a Nepali domestic worker was kidnapped by a Bangladeshi driver and sold for 200 KD ($700) to a group of Asian men who forced her into the flesh trade, she was rescued by the police on April 18. The Bangladeshi man "specialized" in kidnapping and selling maids. He had previously kidnapped and caged six maids while forcing them to engage in prostitution. On the next day a Sri Lankan woman was kidnapped and raped by an unidentified man while walking down the street. On April 27, police arrested an Asian couple who've admitted to forcing six runaway maids into prostitution. The police is yet to arrest the six Kuwaitis involved in running the prostitution ring.

On April 26, a police officer visited the house of a Kuwaiti couple that confessed to torturing their maid, following a complaint she had filed with the police. Instead of arresting the couple and bringing them to the police station, the officer allowed the couple to follow him in their car to the police station. The couple choose to flee and switched off their phones. A few days prior to this exhibition of negligence, we reported about how Kuwaiti policemen stood idly by as a sponsor brutally beat his Indian worker.

Domestic workers, the most vulnerable of migrant workers, are excluded from the protection of Kuwait labor laws. Kuwaiti papers, like most regional papers, mention suicides by workers in just a few sentences, never bothering to find out the names of the victims, sometimes mentioning the nationality. The reports are hidden in the least-read pages and often hint that the cause of suicide was mental illness of the victim and not abuse she or he suffered at the hand of their sponsors. Migrant workers are nameless and faceless in their death just like they are in their lives here.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East