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Kuwait: Minister Rejects Off-Days for Maids on Account of Tradition

On June 11, 2011

Kuwait has always been heavily criticized for the treatment of migrant workers and the little attention media and the government give this serious issue. On the 9th of June, al-Qabas newspaper reported a statement taken by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) of the Minister of justice and social affairs Mohammed Al-Afasy expressing his delight over the way Kuwait was recently evaluated by International Labor Organization for committing to the laws issued locally and applying the standards set out the organization.

Al-Afasy also said that Kuwait opposes to two important points, one regarding specifying working hours for house maids and the other regarding respecting the maids' freedom to have off days outside their sponsors' houses. Al-Afasy says Kuwait and the GCC countries are "a special case" since the majority of maids are women and of course, he says, a maid going to a place unknown for her sponsor, does not suit the habits and traditions of Kuwait and its public ethics.

Such arguments about preserving tradition and modesty of maids have been used throughout the region (not just in the GCC, for example in Lebanon as well) to restrict the domestic workers' freedom of movement, which is a basic human right.