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Violence Against Migrants: July Roundup

On August 8, 2012

Our monthly roundups of issues affecting migrant workers are an effort to improve documentation of migrant abuse, which is overwhelmingly scattered and difficult to access. These stories rarely make front-page news, reducing their impact on the migrant narrative. Underscoring the prevalence of abuse is, for example, essential to challenging the disconnect in media reports between abuse and migrant worker crime or absconsion. This consolidation of abuses and suicides conveys the frequency of their occurrence and provides a comprehensive reflection of the conditions migrants face.

The following accounts represent only a selection of the abuses against migrant workers this past month:

In Saudi Arabia, a Filipina was raped by her employer. In Kuwait, two Filipinas were raped by three men in their sponsor's home. A Kuwaiti minister was recently suspended for raping a Filipino woman.

In the UAE, an employer poured hot oil over an Ethiopian domestic worker's face and chest. In a response to the crime, an Ethiopian consular representative revealed that domestic workers lodge several complaints of abuse with the consulate each day. Employer misconduct is among the foremost reasons the government recently implemented a moratorium on workers to the UAE.

Suicides reflect an accumulated exploitation of migrant workers, as they are almost always linked to working conditions. In Kuwait, an Ethiopian maid committed suicide by jumping form her sponsor's apartment. Another Ethiopian maid committed suicide in a politics station, using her scarf to suffocate herself. Another domestic threatened to stab herself with a knife. in Bahrain, a Bangladeshi man hung himself in a public park after he was prevented from flying home. An employer in Kuwait was accused of abusing a Filipinia domestic worker and causing her to commit suicide by jumping from his apartment. A Indian worker in Oman also hung himself, the latest of at least 15 Indian workers to commit suicide.

These roundups are also an informal measure of the progress, or lack of progress, in the procurement of migrant protections. They demonstrate that the same tragedies occur month after month, capturing only new victims. This evidence contradicts the rhetoric of sending and receiving nations, which periodically affirm their commitment to migrant rights and yet produce no tangible change in legislation.