The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), a regional migrant service institution based in Hong Kong, welcomes the first legislated law for Foreign domestic Workers in Kuwait. We believed that this is a long overdue legislated action for migrants in Kuwait who had been suffering slave like treatments for many years. We also acknowledged that this development is a result of the long years of struggle and advocacy of migrants themselves both inside and outside Kuwait including the advocates who continuously advocating for the rights of migrants in Kuwait and in the Gulf Countries in the Middle East.
In its recent legislation, the Kuwaiti parliament unanimously passed a law granting the Asian domestic workers a 12 working hour a day, 1 day off a week and 30 days annual leave. The legislation also obliges the employers to open a bank account for the domestic migrant workers to avoid delay in the transfer of their salaries. It also passed a second law for the recruitment of domestic workers in a bid to cut the cost for citizens and resolve problems associated with private recruitment agencies. The aim of the second law is to ban private recruitment agencies from taking any fee from the migrant workers and obliged them instead to provide trainings to the migrant workers before joining the job.
Over the decades, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its neighboring Arab countries have been strongly criticized by the international community because of the massive and grave abuses against migrant workers-labor violations, physical abuse, starvation, rape and death tolls. On the other hand, the KAFALA System or otherwise known as the “Sponsorship System” aggravate the situation. KAFALA or Sponsorship System requires all unskilled laborers to have an in-country sponsor, usually their employer, who is responsible for their visa and legal status. Without the sponsor’s authorized permission, migrant worker is not allowed to change his or her job or to leave the country even exploited and at risk. In fact, while the Kuwaiti legislation was on process, a horrible plight of Filipina domestic worker was been in a grim for almost 3 years in Kuwait. Almira, not her real name, suffered inhuman and horrific abuses from her employers. She was beaten like an animal, used as iron board, unfed and grossly humiliated. Her fundamental rights were violated and expelled because of the absence of laws or not implementing applicable laws that protect the rights of domestic workers, instead enforcing policy like the KAFALA that deprived the FDWs to their basic fundamental rights as human and as workers. http://www.pilipinosakuwait.com/2015/06/24/filipina-maid-suffers-three-years-torture-by-sponsor/
Consequently, while the new legislated FDWs law is welcoming to the migrant workers, APMM believes that implementation of the law is another thing that need to be seen. Furthermore, APMM strongly emphasize that while the KAFALA exist, it will be difficult for this new legislation to implement what is expected. Practically, the KAFALA will obstruct any piece meal legislation to the holistic enjoyment of the migrant workers’ rights. With this, APMM urges the GCC and neighboring Arab countries to abolish the KAFALA and enact laws that specifically provide laws and policies for the rights and protection of migrant workers towards ending the modern day slavery, massive labor rights violations and transgress of human rights.
Lastly, while APMM considers the development made by the Kuwaiti government, it commits to strengthen its work with foreign domestic workers in addressing the root causes of forced migration. It will work and campaign in the abolition of the KAFALA to end modern day-slavery and the ultimate recognition of domestic work as work bringing forth the worst vulnerable plights of foreign domestic and service workers in access to human and labor rights, equality and justice.
End modern-day slavery, abolish the KAFALA System now!