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Another Gulf Diplomat Accused of Sexual Harassment

On June 8, 2012

Investigations against a Bahraini diplomat in France commenced this week. French prosecutors are looking into accusations made by the diplomat's former domestic worker, who was fired in 2011. The woman told authorities her ex-employer groped her at his Paris home, and that she had escaped several attempted rapes. She also claimed that the man's son threatened her with a gun. Both he and his son have denied the allegations.

The Bahraini embassy has not yet commented on the case, but government figures rarely receive public condemnation from state entities. Recently, an Emirati ambassador was accused by several Filipina domestic workers for similar sexual transgressions. Neither the Philippines nor the UAE have taken serious steps to publicly address the workers' accusations by, for example, linking the ambassador's behavior to the habitual subordination of domestic workers in the Gulf. Instead, the case appears to remain contained as an exclusively civil matter within the Filipino court system. While France is not constrained by the same remittance-dependency relationships that exists between the UAE and migrant-sending nations - which hinder sending-nations' inclination to condemn such abuses - it is not yet clear if the accusations will affect diplomatic relations.

Though the facts have yet to be confirmed in this case, heads of state have displayed a history of violent behavior towards domestic workers. Authoritative figures not only physically abuse workers, but also maintain the discriminatory laws that perpetuate their subaltern existence. Unfortunately, the very few situations that receive international attention do not fully reflect the systematic mistreatment of domestic workers.