Friday, April 2, 2010

Video: Dependency creates vulnerability, leads to exploitation

In November 2009, one of Future TV's Tawasul [Communicating] episodes was on the situation of women migrant domestic workers.

In that episode (published below), International Labor Organization (ILO) senior technical specialist, Ms. Simel Esim called for the end of the exclusion of domestic workers (not just migrants) from the application of labor laws. Lawyer Rolan Taok who is active on this issue called for a special tribunal for solving cases of migrant domestic workers with the purpose of speeding up the cases, as well as an overhaul of the system of employing migrants and abolishing the sponsorship 'kafala' system.

Ms. Simel added "with the kafala system, you are creating a total dependency of the worker on the employer for her food, sleeping, health, everything... Total dependency creates total vulnerability and opens the door wide to exploitation (...) We always say why are they coming? There are push factors: poverty, unemployment (in their home country)".

To get the footage, I contacted Ms. Simel at the ILO offices, and we had a good chat over the phone about the latest developments on migrant domestic workers rights. She told me that the ministry of labor is attempting to make functional the office and procedure for receiving complaints related to migrant domestic workers (office supposedly set up last February). Last week, when I tried to get the number of that mysterious "office" on 1515 (Phone company information line), I was given the Ministry of Labor's phone number. That's the only number they have.

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