Domestic Workers Abused Worldwide

Hundreds of domestic workers commit suicide in Bahrain every year rather than return to their families in debt, according to rights groups and Western observers.

The workers, mostly women from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, take out huge loans to pay their way to Bahrain, lured by the promise of good jobs and decent wage, according to Gulf News.

But the jobs turn out to be lower quality, and the pay a fraction of what they expected.

Broke and often abused by their employers, they cannot return home and often choose to end their lives.

A report by Human Rights Watch titled “Swept Under the Rug: Abuses Against Domestic Workers Around the World” includes testimonials from hundreds of women from Asia to Africa.

They tell stories of abuse at the hands of employers, working 19-hour days without being fed properly, and enduring rape and other sexual abuse without any legal recourse.

Such reports are especially common in Saudi Arabia, which reportedly arrested, tortured and jailed domestic workers who fought back. Some have been executed.

The Indonesian, Sri Lankan and Philippine embassies handle “thousands” of complaints of this nature every year, according to the report.

In the Philippines, officials called for an investigation into cases of rape and forced prostitution of Filipino domestic workers abroad.

This follows public outcry over a video of a domestic worker named Melissa being raped and tied up by the son of her employers in Saudi Arabia — the second such case in recent weeks.

India is considering requiring a minimum monthly wage of $250 be paid to all Indian maids and domestic workers who take jobs in 18 countries across the Middle East and Asia, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen.

Indian embassies would monitor domestic workers to ensure they receive the minimum wage, and would forbid emigration if the employer doesn’t meet their approval.

In New York, a state assemblyman recently introduced a “Domestic Workers Bill of Rights” into both legislative chambers to give local domestic workers — mostly Caribbean and Latin American women — a measure of protection.

Such women are entitled to many of the same rights as other workers in the United States, but often don’t report problems for fear of being deported, according to Hardbeat News, a Caribbean diaspora publication.


“Expat blues fuel suicide rate”
Gulf News (Bahrain), August 10, 2007

“Domestic servants suffer abuse: report”
Associated Press, August 6, 2007

“The virtually invisible New Yorkers – Caribbean domestic workers”
Hardbeat News (NY), August 10, 2007

“Abuse of Pinays worries DFA”
Inquirer (Philippines), August 11, 2007

“BD94 wage plan for Indian maids”
Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), August 8, 2007

6 thoughts on “Domestic Workers Abused Worldwide

  1. It’s sickening how we coddle Saudi Arabia based on oil dependency. They claim to be our ally, yet 13 of the 911 hijackers were Saudi nationals. They treat women like chattle, and abuse domestic workers as some kind of entitlement. What a horrible place. Here’s a rhetorical question, if the Bushies wanted a foothold in the Middle East, why didn’t they invade Saudi Arabia?

  2. Man, as an outsider you hear all these crazy stories about Dubai. Dubai is the wild wild west (east).

  3. Thank you for the enlightment i have received from my colleagues. Please keep on advising us on those countries which harrass other citizens from other nations. Thank you.


  5. The United Nations should establish a watch group and assistance shelter for every nation with abuses of human rights on domestic and foreign workers. A media center is recommended too to show the world how they are being treated as nothing by un-civilized host countires. United Nation should also put pressure on these government to introduce and implement foreign domestic rights. These poor people are in their lowest level of livehood, the only reasons they take these jobs is to provide food to their family members and yet they face a very hardship life that they have never experience before.
    Their passpost confiscated by the employers, withheld their already reduced salaries, and verbally, physically, and sexually abused.
    Most of these abused victims ended up host country jail where they will suffers more severe beatings by the police, repeated mentally, verbally, and sexual abuse continues on the hands of local police station or jails.

    Its time to look at these serious un-civilized treatments of Overseas Workers in Middle East and one should spearheaded a commission to educate the whole world how these countries practices slavery.