subscribe: Posts | Comments

Abused Sri Lankan domestic workers trapped in Saudi Arabia


Summary of story from BBC News, October 1, 2011

Hundreds of Sri Lankan domestic workers are trapped in a migrant camp in Saudi Arabia after fleeing the homes of abusive employers.

The women in the Olaya detention camp who claim they were physically, sexually or psychologically abused are now classified as illegal immigrants under Saudi law because their employers are the legal “sponsor” for their work permits.

The women, who have no means of getting home, have experienced a catalogue of abuses, from beatings and burnings, to being forced to work without pay, sometimes for years on end, and being allowed no communication with their families at home.

The women are among the hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan women who travel to the Middle East every year and many claim they are ill-treated or abused by their employers.

In one case in August 2010, 24 nails were removed from the body of LP Ariyawathie, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan domestic worker (see WVoN story).

There has been no progress in the case, despite pledges by the authorities that there would be an investigation.

There  has been no move by the Sri Lankan authorities to help the women in the Olaya detention camp return home, or the hundreds more abused maids who are currently staying in an embassy hostel.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for migrant domestic workers to be included in local labour laws so that they are better protected.

In an open letter to the governments of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, HRW urged them to “ensure a timely and comprehensive response” to alleged abuse and implement “systemic reforms to prevent such abuses in future”.

It also urged Saudi Arabia to “prosecute alleged perpetrators, allow victims to return to their home countries before the trial and seek both criminal penalties and financial compensation”.

The organisation also wants an end to the Kafala system that requires the consent of the employer to repatriate migrant workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *