DUBAI, Nov 14, 2007 (AFP) – The governments of Gulf countries including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as Lebanon, are failing to curb abuses against Sri Lankan domestic workers, Human Rights Watch charged Wednesday. “While much remains to be accomplished, the UAE government — working with the private sector and other organisations — is taking significant initiatives to protect human rights and to improve the environments of all workers in the country,” he said. The UAE swiftly dismissed the claims, saying the New York-based rights group deliberately ignored its efforts to improve the conditions of foreign workers.
In a 131-page report, HRW said the domestic helpers typically labour for 16 to 21 hours a day, without rest breaks or days off, for extremely low wages of 15 to 30 US cents an hour.
“Some domestic workers told Human Rights Watch how they were subjected to forced confinement, food deprivation, physical and verbal abuse, forced labour, and sexual harassment and rape by their employers,” it said.
More than 660,000 Sri Lankan women work abroad as domestic workers, nearly 90 percent of them in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon, according to HRW.
The rights group, which based its rep