Middle East Failing to Protect Domestic Workers

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The Middle East depends heavily on domestic workers, but trails other regions in adopting critical reforms to protect their rights, the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Human Rights Watch said Oct. 27.

The groups released a report, assessing progress since the 2011 adoption of the Domestic Workers Convention, a groundbreaking treaty to entitle domestic workers to the same basic rights as other workers.

As Human Rights Watch, the IDWN, and the ITUC have documented, domestic workers in the Middle East – many of them migrants from Asia and Africa – experience a wide range of abuses, including unpaid wages, restrictions on leaving the households where they work and excessive work hours with no rest days. Some may face psychological, physical, or sexual abuse and can get trapped in situations of forced labor, including by being trafficked.

“Even though the Middle East and North Africa are home to some of the worst abuses against domestic workers, the pace of legal reforms in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Lebanon has dragged on for years with little to show,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “And even the proposed reforms fall short of international standards and the comprehensive protections that other countries are implementing.”

Read the rest at Arab American News