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Excerpt on Foreign Domestic Workers, from an NGO submission to OHCHR on Economic and Social Rights in Syria

On March 18, 2011

The following is the excerpt on migrant domestic workers from the submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for Syria's session of the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council. The submission is on Economic and Social Rights in Syria, and is by the Arab NGO Network for Development and the Center for Economic and Social Rights.

Full text including footnotes:

38. The majority of foreign domestic workers (FDW) are female and hail from Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa, particularly Indonesia, the Philippines, Somalia, and Ethiopia. They face multiple levels of gender and ethnic discrimination and are further made vulnerable by the unique characteristics of their sector of work. They often have less bargaining power due to their “invisibility” as they work in isolation and in the privacy of households . They often face difficult work conditions, including: long, often unpredictable hours, low salaries and lack of leave days, physical, sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse; difficulty in reporting abuses to Syrian authorities and seeking remedy, illicit measures affecting salaries such as non-payment, limitations on their freedom of movement, confiscation of passports or other identity documents (prohibited by Syrian law and by the International Convention of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families) .
39. Although on 10/12/2000, Law No. 24 was amended as to regulate the minimum wage and other employment issues for casual or temporary workers, including domestic workers, the working conditions of domestic workers remain regulated almost exclusively by their contracts. There is no standard contract or mechanism to enforce employment contracts signed in other countries.