Sad State

KUWAIT CITY, October 6, 2010 (AFP) – Abuse of domestic workers in Kuwait is rising, and maids in the Gulf emirate face prosecution when they try to escape, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. The New York-based rights group said migrant domestic workers have minimal protection from employers who withhold salaries, force them to work long hours with no days off, deprive them of adequate food or abuse them physically or sexually.

“The number of abuses has been rising,” Priyanka Motaparthy, HRW research fellow in Middle East and North Africa, told a press conference announcing a report, which details specific cases.

“In 2009, domestic workers from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and Ethiopia filed over 10,000 complaints of abuse with their embassies,” she said.

The HRW data does not include Indian maids, who represent almost half of the 660,000 domestic workers in the oil-rich emirate. Domestic workers, almost entirely Asian, form one-third of the 1.81 million foreign employees in Kuwait.

The 97-page report, “Walls at Every Turn: Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers Through Kuwait’s Sponsorship System,” describes how workers become trapped in exploitative or abusive