News

Domestic Workers in India air their woes

27 August, 2014 | FPJ Bureau | Free Press Journal
INDIA -

At a two-hour-long convention, they demand their rights of decent wages and education of their children

The All India Domestic Workers Union formed in 2012 held the Domestic Workers Convention 2014 where they made several demands from their employers and the Maharashtra government. The convention was held at the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) compound near Press Club at CST on Tuesday afternoon.

The ongoing plight of Lebanon's domestic workers

21 August, 2014 | Joseph A. Kechichian Senior Writer | Gulf News
LEBANON -

Beirut Much like data for its native population, Lebanon underestimates both the numbers of Palestinian and Syrian refugees and, in the most ironic of all cases, it also purposefully undercounts domestic laborers. The presence of approximately 750,000 expatriate laborers has created a Pandora’s box for the Lebanese as most domestic workers struggle with work permit issues and, when those were secured, with violence.

Overwhelmed, the labor and interior ministries barely cope with legal pressures, now significantly burdened with the regulation of nearly 2 million Syrian refugees that, for the most part, suffocate the bureaucracy.

Malaysia keen to take domestic workers from Nepal

21 August, 2014 | The Malaysian Insider | The Malaysian Insider
MALAYSIA -

Malaysia has expressed its interest to take domestic workers from Nepal, already a second largest source country for migrant workers in Malaysia.

Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot (pic) brought up this idea during a meeting and talks with Nepali Minister of State for Labour and Employment Tek Bahadur Gurung in Kathmandu, Nepal, today, Nepali officials said.

However, no agreement was reached on the issue.

Brazil expands labor rights for domestic workers

21 August, 2014 | Jenny Barchfield, The Associated Press, Rio de Janeiro | The Jakarta Post
BRAZIL -

Nivea dos Santos got her first job as a live-in maid at age 12, dusting, vacuuming, ironing and polishing the silver of a wealthy Rio de Janeiro family from dawn until she'd fall, exhausted, into bed. More than two decades later, Brazil has passed legislation aimed at preventing such abuses.

The landmark domestic workers law, passed as a constitutional amendment last year and strengthened this month, aims to extend some of Brazil's generous labor protections to the more than 6 million maids, nannies, eldercare givers, gardeners and caretakers who work in privates homes — many toiling long hours for little or, in some cases, no pay.

Philippines: The forgotten cost of domestic work

19 August, 2014 | Anna Cummins and Mark Tjhung | Time Out Hong Kong
PHILIPPINES -

They care for our families and maintain our homes. Our city relies on them. But for many domestic helpers, leaving behind their own country comes with a huge trade-off.

Five Things You Didn't Know About Human Trafficking

19 August, 2014 | Jamie Hagen | RollingStone
USA/GLOBAL -

With 21 million people around the world in forced labor, what can we do?

Human trafficking is a travesty that many consider a problem of the past, or at least one limited to outside the United States. Unfortunately, in today's globalized society, the problems of human trafficking are embedded in aspects of Americans' daily lives in ways that many may not be aware of – taking on new forms and presenting new challenges for human-rights defenders worldwide.

A Judicial Blow to Lebanon’s Sponsorship System: Employer Must Return Domestic Worker’s Passport

14 August, 2014 | Sarah Wansa | The Legal Agenda
LEBANON -

The ruling discussed in this commentary concerns the case of a female migrant domestic worker whose passport was withheld. The violation addressed in the lawsuit is, of course, no unique occurrence, but rather a very widespread one in Lebanon. This is a country where slavery has taken the form of a sponsorship system in which the “sponsor” is the “master”. Behavior such as that of employers withholding workers’ identification documents, or confining them to their homes, has thus become socially “acceptable” among broad segments of its population.

Domestic workers in Pakistan are still struggling hard to get their basic rights to work and live

10 August, 2014 | Aoun Sahi | The News On Sunday
PAKISTAN -

In August 2010, Tehmina, a twelve-year-old girl from Multan district who worked as a domestic help in a house situated in a posh neighourhood in Islamabad, was pushed off a balcony by her employer for demanding salary. She suffered spinal-cord injuries and was paralysed. Though her poor father managed to get a case registered against her employers with the help of civil society and media, he reached an out-of-court settlement with Tehmina’s employers after two months.

Tehmina was not the first or last case in which domestic workers have either been tortured or killed by employers. In 2013, then Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the provinces to take necessary measures against slavery-like child domestic work, but the provinces failed to act. From January 2013 to first week of August 2014, 32 cases of torture on domestic workers were reported, including 14 deaths.

“Majority of the cases are reported from Punjab and around 90 per cent victims are girls. This is the only occupation in which deaths, murders and torture on children is reported. But conviction rate in such cases is zero per cent,” says Abdullah Khoso. “In Pakistan, issues of domestic workers are raised only when some worker is killed.”

New Brazil law supports domestic workers' rights

8 August, 2014 | BBC News | BBC News
BRAZIL -

A new law in Brazil has come into force under which employers can be fined if they fail to register their domestic workers.

It is part of new measures to provide basic protection for some seven million domestic workers long excluded from Brazil's stringent labour laws.

Employers can now be reported and fined several hundred dollars each time they break part of the code.

A constitutional amendment limits domestic workers to a 44-hour week.

It defined other rights as well - basic entitlements such as an eight-hour working day, the right to the minimum wage, a lunch break, social security and severance pay.

Hong Kong's Hidden Shame: Why is foreign domestic worker abuse so rampant?

5 August, 2014 | Katrina Kaufman | Coconuts Media Limited
HONG KONG -

Early this year, dramatic images surfaced of a gaunt young woman covered in deep bruises and lacerations, her feet swollen and black from infection. While she resembled the torture victim of a war-torn country, in fact, this brutal abuse was the result of being a foreign maid in Hong Kong.

Like many of Hong Kong's estimated 323,400 foreign domestic helpers, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, had essentially been treated like a slave. Months of alleged torture from her employer – including daily beatings (often on the head with a mop handle), boiling water burns, 21-hour work days, sleeping on the floor and being locked up – took their toll on the 23-year-old Indonesian maid. When she could no longer even work, her employer abandoned her at the airport, barely able to walk or see, with a ticket home and only $9. Yet, what was perhaps most unsettling about Erwiana's story is that this crime against humanity took place in Asia's world city – and was by no means an isolated incident.
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