Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

Return to research Posted on 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.

Housemaids, Kuwait, Research, Suicide

12 thoughts on “April 2010: Another Bloody Month for Migrant Workers in Kuwait

  1. [...] April 2010: Another Bloody Month for Migrant Workers in Kuwait [...]

  2. [...] Migrant Rights © Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback [...]

  3. N.A says:

    hi sir or maam, yes i am agree in this write ups above mentioned some are going to this horrible dicissions pushing them sometimes to commit suicides due to they think they are help less ., no laws that protect them and no agencies can offer them help even their own embassies cant help most embassies are i may called it hand cuffs.. they are useless they cant protect there own people.even local authorities sometimes abuse them ..the local authorities should protect the people assist them what are their problems and help them what they need especially from abussive employers who easily filed them a case with out valid reasons .. why they dont ask first to the victim or summons the emlpoyer then they will know what happened really is. those who have absconding cases or run away why should they put a to jail who is not criminal only by escaping the abussive employer or sponsor. thats why some are commiting suicide some are become prostitute due to they need money to survive from harsh environment they encounter. i think the international human rights should look unto this matter and help us small people. or the government should help us domestic workers or known us visa 20 . they should ask first who are the real offenders ?us workers or our employers.but who cares anyway…we are not the violators we are just victims here so pls help us… if they think were violating there laws and rules sorry all i can say is help us to correct this problem especially gulf region

  4. N.A says:

    we migrant workers comes to this country to work ,earn money 4 a living, we didnt inetend to violate rules and laws of the country. but sometimes if the abussive sponsor take place and invent all the crimes we didnot commit then u tend to commit suicide or runaway later and become a resident violators they may say, so some are weak they fell to serious illnesses like psycological disturbances due to excessive thinking of there status problems because they are afraid of the consequences or being a run away example serving jail time with out reason we are not criminals to be jailed were just victims of our sponsors. why dont punished our sponsor why us.. all i can say is if there is really a helping hand or agency that help this people i think this problem can be solve right away.or let this run away look 4 another sponsor that is good for her or him then their residences are become legalized. or create a agency that invistigate this matter bet sponsor and run away maid summon them togethere with out onesided or bias ruling then it will be solve and everybody is happy and peacefull way not putting somebody in jail with out valid cause. thanks

  5. John says:

    Unfortunately, I have tried to report human trafficking and corruption in Kuwait to journalists at the Arab Times Newspaper, Kuwait Times Newspaper, even Ricky Laxa (Reporter at Al Watan Daily). I gave them pictures, phone numbers, email addresses, facebook pages, but nothing. I even let the OWWA Office at the Philippine Embassy know about this. The only thing I figure can be done is to place UN sanctions on Kuwait, but this probably will not happen.

  6. John says:

    There are more and more migrant workers committing suicide or attempting suicide everyday in Kuwait.

  7. NAME says:

    I would like to raise 2 issues here :

    1. the workers living condition : workers are paid, they could have rented a decent place to live in, instead they decide to live in slums and streets to save all the salary they earn.
    *( it is the responsibility of the Employer to provide salary including housing ) or maybe offer housing benifits / deduct housing fees ( salary+house ) or salary – housing fees.

    2. the responsibility of Agencies that collect fees from both Employers and Employees.

  8. John says:

    What are the issues u raised, is there a specific point. Everyday I read the Kuwait papers and you have an expat housemaid/driver/laborer committing suicide or attempting suicide. Yet, the Kuwait government there are not any human rights issues in this country. The Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries will continue to hide the problems of domestic workers. When other countries come to investigate, they hide the abuses because these governments are giving a time frame when they are going to be visited by a foreign delegation. There needs to be United Nations sanctions put on these countries until Human Rights violations are resolved.

  9. ria says:

    i just want to ask that why kuwaiti government iz not treating us as humans they are taking from us huge house rents, medial insurance after 2 years. females are not feeling safe because of youth here in front of any boys school you will see unplesent scenes. after every 3 month they put restrictions on visas? where to go i dont know very depreesed situation.

  10. [...] of a trend we’ve been monitoring for quite some time on During April, 12 migrant workers attempted or succeeded in ending their lives in Kuwait. During March and the end of February, there [...]

  11. [...] of a trend we’ve been monitoring for quite some time on During April, 12 migrant workers attempted or succeeded in ending their lives in Kuwait. During March and the end of February, there [...]

  12. [...] 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 [...]

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Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East