Murder of a Kuwaiti woman may have lasting effects on migrants

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Nov 24 2011

The murder of a Kuwaiti bride by her Ethiopian maid may have reverberating consequences for the nation's migrants. The Ministry of Health intends to introduce a set of psychological evaluations that prospective foreigner workers must pass before their work visas are approved, adding to the already extensive and expensive medical procedures migrants are required to take.

Pursuing a holistic understanding of the crime demonstrates the unnecessary burden these measures represent. The maid in question revealed that the family's abuse motivated her to seek revenge against the young woman. Her mistreatment and abuse do not legitimize murder, but they provide the context in which the seemingly inconceivable events can be understood. Whether the family's mistreatment inflicted psychological damage on the maid, or whether she felt suffocated because few options exist to redress employer abuse, are yet unknown. But to disregard the role of migrant mistreatment in this case perpetuates the dangerous tendency to systematically ignore abuse, which only fosters such unstable employer and employee relationships. The likelihood that any psychological damage occurred after the maid's regular abuse is high, rendering evaluations before migrants are subjected to these working conditions superfluous and ineffective.

The brutal beheading of the young female is deplorable, but the community and wider government response must take care to avoid collectively punishing migrants for one woman's actions. Additionally, the quick and extensive measures taken by authorities are extreme compared to the inaction observed in cases involving migrant deaths. The Kuwaiti government should enforce equal justice and the rule of law for all people, regardless of their citizenship, social status, or ethnicity.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East