Maternal Bond

March 08, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has decided to ban women with very young children from working abroad, many of whom leave the country to work as housemaids in the Middle East to support families back home. Mothers migrating for employment affect the emotional welfare of children and should be regulated, Anura Yapa, Sri Lanka’s media minister told journalists.

According to a cabinet paper approved by the government, mothers with children under five years will no longer be registered by the Foreign Employment Bureau, Yapa said.

If the child is over five years of age, the mother can get approval from committees to be set up in each administrative division.

Approvals will be granted only on condition the mother has arranged for appropriate care for the child in her absence.

The Foreign Employment Bureau will have to formulate and implement a process to monitor and regulate migration of mothers, Yapa said.

Each year, thousands of Sri Lankan women migrate to Middle Eastern countries to look for employment as domestic aides, to support families back home.

Migrant labour has become a top foreign exchange earner for the island, with foreign employment growing 8.2 percent to 23