Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

Return to research Posted on Oct 5 2010

Over the months of August and September, migrant workers in Kuwait continued to commit suicide at an alarming rate. Over this two-months period, 27 migrant workers have attempted to end their life or succeeded in doing so. This is an increase from 23 suicides and suicide attempts in the two months prior (June and July).

Previous reports by Migrant-Rights.org have exposed an alarming trend of suicides by migrant workers in Kuwait. In May 2010 alone, we documented 17 cases of suicide and attempted suicide by domestic workers in Kuwait. During April, 12 migrant workers attempted or succeeded in ending their lives in Kuwait. During March and the end of February, there were 13 reported cases of suicide and suicide attempt by migrants in the emirate. And during November of 2008 we’ve covered another 13 cases of suicide and attempted suicides by expatriate workers.

Most of the suicides and suicide attempts are committed by domestic workers, the most vulnerable of migrant workers since they are excluded from the protection of Kuwait’s labor laws, and because their work takes place in private residences. Migrant workers are driven to suicide because of their harsh living and working condition, which sometimes include physical abuse and non-payment of salaries.

Documentation

The first suicide attempt in the reporting period was recorded on August 1, when a 23-year-old Ethiopian maid attempted to kill herself by overdosing on pills in Hawali. She was found unconscious and rushed to the hospital in time. The next day, an Asian maid attempted suicide using the same method in Ahmadi. She was found unconscious by her sponsor and rushed to the hospital. The next day, August 3, a 30-year-old Indian man attempted to kill himself by slitting his throat in al-Wafra.

On August 6, an Indonesian maid threatened to jump from the second floor after getting into a fight with her sponsor. The authorities that arrived at the scene managed to talk her out of this. On August 8th, an Asian domestic worker was found dead in a pool of blood in his sponsor’s house in Oyoun, al-Jahra governorate after cutting himself with a blade. The same day, an Asian maid attempted suicide in her sponsor’s house in al-Qadisiya. She stabbed herself several times but survived the injuries.

On August 13, a Sri-Lankan maid threatened to kill herself by jumping off the second floor of a building in the area of Ardiya. The Kuwaiti police managed to talk her out of it. On August 18 it was reported that a 25-year-old Sri-Lankan maid attempted suicide by overdosing on pills in Hawali. She was taken to the Adan hospital in time. On August 22, an Asian maid was hospitalized after attempting suicide by jumping from the balcony of her employer’s apartment in Faheel. On August 25 a Nepalese shepherd ended his life inside a livestock pen in Kabad. On the same day, a 28-year-old Asian man committed suicide by hanging in Salmi. On August 30, a Bangladeshi man hung himself to death from the ceiling in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh.

On September 7, a 49-year-old Filipino maid killed herself by jumping from the fifth floor of a building in Faheel. On the same day, an Asian maid attempted to end her life by slitting her wrists. She was taken to the Intensive Care unit in Faranwiya hospital.

On September 14, a Nepali maid killed herself by hanging in her sponsor’s house in al-Zahr. On September 15, al-Jarida daily reported about two suicide attempts by maids in Kuwait. Interestingly, the report went a little beyond describing the place and method of suicide, and actually bothered to look into the cause of one of the suicide attempts. The paper stated that an Indonesian maid attempted suicide in al-Dahar after being “mistreated and beaten up” by her employers, according to her complaints, and that her last resort to end the abuse was suicide. The second case happened in al-Naeem where a 28-year-old Ethiopian maid attempted to kill herself. On the same day, a 64-year-old Indian migrant hung himself to death in his room in the Salmiya area.

After a heated argument with her sponsor, a Filipino maid attempted to kill herself by swallowing pesticide. She was taken to the Faranwiya hospital on September 17. On the next day, an Asian worker attempted suicide by slitting his wrists in Hawali. On the same day, a Nepalese maid (24) attempted suicide by swallowing detergent in her sponsor’s house in Kaifan. The al-Jarida report again goes beyond the cold details and adds that the cause of the attempt was financial difficulties back home. The maid received a letter from her family asking that she send more money, but her sponsor gave her less than the agreed upon salary, so the maid resorted to suicide after failing to secure the correct amount.

On September 20, two migrants died under suspicious circumstances. A 46-year-old Indian was found dead in a garage in Salmiya, and a 35-year-old Asian “fell” from a building in Abu Halifa.
On the next day, September 21, a Sri-Lankan maid (36) attempted to kill herself by swallowing pesticide. She was taken to the Jahra hospital for treatment. On the same day, an Asian maid attempted suicide in the Andalous area using the same method after a conflict with her employer. She was taken to Faranwiya hospital.

On September 26, an Asian domestic worker attempted to kill herself by swallowing pesticide in her sponsor’s house in the Sabah al-Nasser area. On the next day, a 40-year-old Indian maid attempted to end her life by overdosing on pills in her sponsor’s house in Sulaibiya. She was taken to the Faranwiya hospital and had her stomach washed.

All the reports do not bother reporting the names of the victim and only two report about the causes of suicide. At times the nationality of the victim is reported and age, and sometimes the victims are simply referred to as “Asian maid”. Attempting suicide is a crime in Kuwait, and all the reports mention that the police opened a file against the victim. Yet there has never been a case in Kuwait where a sponsor was tried for driving his worker to suicide.

Housemaids, Kuwait, Research, Suicide

5 thoughts on “Almost every two days a migrant worker commits suicide in Kuwait

  1. Suicides are happenings in Kuwait because of the lack of support from our Philippine Embassy. There are so many undocumented workers in Kuwait because no one is helping them. One official in POLO is telling themOFW that they have no rights here and just go along with what their employers wants them to do. There are so many undocumented workers who are now selling their flesh in order to survive in this country. Go to Ministry of Labor everyday and see alots of Filipinos fighting for their rights but there’s no EMBASSY officials with them. President Aquino should pay more attention to the severity situation of the OFW in the middle east.

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Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East