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Violence against migrants: June roundup

On July 3, 2012

Violence against migrants in June sustained similar patterns and frequencies as in previous months this year. Several cases of suicide and attempted suicide once again were registered with authorities: An Indian migrant worker in Kuwait committed suicide in his room. A maid of African descent committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of her sponsor's home. A Nepali maid attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on medication.

In the last week of June, a Kuawiti citizen was sentenced to death for murdering his Nepalese housemaid. Migrant Rights documented the story of the woman's gruesome murder here.

Also in Kuwait, a sponsor of Lebanese descent was arrested for locking up and torturing an Indonesian housemaid for four years. The woman's body was covered in burns and bruises, and she also suffered broken fingers and teeth.

In Dubai, a female sponsor received 16 years in jail for beating an Indonesian maid to death. Witnesses attested that she regularly tortured the maid physically and psychologically. The sponsor's neighbor also received a 13-year sentence, and both are required to compensate the victim's family.

The majority of migrant abuse still remains undocumented, not only in media reports but in official records as well. Nations have only recently begun to create avenues for workers to report abuse, but even with these institutionalized means of redress, fear of retaliatory abuse can prevent migrants from approaching authorities. Additionally, the sponsorship system itself reduces the number of reported cases as migrants fear forced repatriation once their sponsorship contract is invariably annulled by the allegations. Migrant workers often risk perilous conditions to maintain employment in the country - a risk they would not have to endure if adequate preventative and punitive labor laws existed, particularly for domestic workers who enjoy the least protection.