Due to abuse, Sri Lanka sends fewer maids to Arab countries

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Aug 3 2008

We have documented a wide range of articles concerning abuse against Sri Lankan workers. The government of Sri Lanka is reacting to the large and increasing amount of abuse cases by limiting the number of Sri Lankan workers coming to work in the Arab world, where abuse against maids is common. This is proof of the fact that this situation has gotten desperate and there is still no form of protection for these workers, where limiting them has become a sort of "last resort" for the Sri Lankan government.

Recently Reuters has covered the story, noting:

"We want to reduce the number of women migrant workers mainly because of complaints we received from those in Middle East countries," Kingsley Ranawaka, the chairman of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment told Reuters.

The number of workers who continue to travel here in order to work is estimated to about 700,000, according to the same source. This is almost the amount of an entire population (Bahrain.)

The bureau said it received complaints for 577 cases of breach of contract and 479 of harassments in the first half of 2008, including cases of sexual abuse and physical violence.

This is extremely alarming and disturbing, and the government feels that the situation will not be as bad if Sri Lankan maids can work in countries that can be more effective in ensuring their basic needs and human rights, listing:

European Union, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and Japan.

The article also concludes with a horrifying example of violence against maids (sometimes referred to as "live-in slaves"):

In May this year, Human Rights Watch had slammed a Saudi Arabian court decision to drop charges against an employer accused of abusing an Indonesian maid so severely she lost her fingers and toes.The maid had been beaten daily and forced to work long hours without rest for her Saudi employers.

For more information, please read the article.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East