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Migrant Abuse: November Roundup

On December 4, 2012

Though several new labor agreements were reached this November, the month remains characterized by several atrocities against migrant workers. Below we recapitulate the select cases registered in official records:

In Saudi Arabia, an employer clubbed a maid to death. He also attacked another maid at the scene, as well as his own wife. Another maid returned home from Saudi after suffering a mysterious fall in the home of her abusive employer.

In Bahrain, an employer assaulted a Bangaldeshi worker with a wooden plank following a dispute. The article detailing the crime was recently removed from Gulf Daily News.

In Kuwait, a Filipina domestic worker retained a broken spine and and fractured leg after jumping from a second-floor apartment to escape human traffickers. The worker had been abused and underpaid by her sponsor, who then sold her to an agency to recuperate the cost of her recruitment. She was placed into an apartment with other female migrant workers, and two Sri Lankan men. The men were human traffickers, who had tried to assault the maid prior to her attempted escape. The men then took the woman back to their apartment, and notified her sponsor in order for her to medical attention - two days after her life-threatening accident.

Still in Kuwait, an Ethiopian housemaid attempted suicide by overdosing. In Lebanon, an Ethiopian domestic worker succeeded in committing suicide by jumping from her employer’s balcony. Suicide is almost always the result of sponsor abuse.

Several cases involving employers and migrant workers were also tried this month. In one case, the defendant is accused of imprisoning and forcing a domestic worker into prostitution. In a second case, an employer is accused of several horrifying acts against an Ethiopian maid that ultimately led to her death; justifying her behavior by the maid’s “lazyness,” the employer whipped her, rubbed pepper in her eyes, tied her up with electrical wire, and doused her with boiling water. The woman's burns became infected, eventually leading to her death.

In Oman, an employer violently reacted to a Sri Lankan maid’s demand for wages. The sponsor hit Mulia Nona in the head with a sharp object and punched her in the ears, causing seemingly permanent hearing loss. Nona, who had been abused for years, escaped to the Sri Lankan embassy in October. Authorities are now prosecuting her case.

In another case, the Indonesian rights association MigrantCare organized an autopsy of a domestic worker who died in Saudi Arabia last year. The autopsy revealed that the worker, Narul Khasanah, suffered from a cut wrist, as well as bruises and tears on her temple, thighs, and ears.

A number of reports produced this month also profiled migrant worker abuse in the region. An feature published an extensive piece on domestic worker abuse in light of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The article highlights several stories from the past year and discusses conditions female migrants face in the absence of significant legal protections.

Additionally, a report produced by Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat details the trafficking and torturing of East African Migrants in Yemen. Reuters featured a troubling photograph of a lacerated Ethiopian migrant here.