Monday, September 06, 2010

Saudi Arabia: Domestic Worker Brutalized

Protections for Domestic Workers, Systemic Reform Urgently Needed

Human Rights Watch, September 2, 2010

The abuse suffered by this woman is not an isolated incident, but one of countless cases of abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers. The government should address the systemic problems made possible by Saudi laws that put all power in the hands of private employers and allow them to abuse their workers with no fear of consequences.
Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The apparent brutality by Saudi employers against a Sri Lankan domestic worker highlights the severe shortcomings in labor laws and practices that foster abuse and exploitation, Human Rights Watch said today. The exclusion of the estimated 1.5 million migrant domestic workers from labor protections and their subjection to a sponsorship system that governs immigration status and employment relations facilitates systemic abuses of these workers, Human Rights Watch said.

Doctors in Sri Lanka on August 27, 2010, operated on Lahadapurage Daneris Ariyawathie, 49, to remove nails and metal objects she said her Saudi employers had hammered into her body after she complained of being overworked. Ariyawathie had worked in a Riyadh home since March before her Saudi employers returned her to Sri Lanka in late August.”The abuse suffered by this woman is not an isolated incident, but one of countless cases of abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should address the systemic problems made possible by Saudi laws that put all power in the hands of private employers and allow them to abuse their workers with no fear of consequences.”

As documented by Human Rights Watch in its 2008 report, “As If I Am Not Human,” domestic workers in Saudi Arabia suffer physical and sexual abuse and economic exploitation, but face obstacles to redress. Saudi law specifically excludes the estimated 1.5 million, mostly Asian, domestic workers from protections of the labor law.

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