KUALA LUMPUR, April 29, 2010 (AFP) – Middle East and Asian nations, which draw millions of foreign domestic workers, have failed to take action to tackle widespread abuse of the vulnerable women, Human Rights Watch said. “The reforms undertaken by Middle Eastern and Asian governments fall far short of the minimum protections needed to tackle abuses against migrant domestic workers,” the US-based group said.
“Despite recent improvements, millions of Asian and African women workers remain at high risk of exploitation and violence, with little hope of redress,” it said in a report launched ahead of International Labour Day on May 1.
The report focused on Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Singapore. HRW said that several nations had made improvements but far more must be done.
“In general, reforms have been slow, incremental, and hard-fought,” said Nisha Varia, the group’s women’s rights researcher.
“Jordan deserves credit for including domestic work in their labour law, but enforcement remains a big concern. Singapore has prosecuted physical abuse against domestic workers vigorously, but fails to guarantee them even one day off a week.”