Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ethiopian Maids Reveal Abuse From Employers in UAE

Maids Wube Tamene (left) and Hedja Ousman (right)
Government officials in the UAE claim there is enough legislation to protect domestic workers from abuse by employers – but admit more can be done to help.

It comes a day after 7DAYS reported on the abuse of two Ethiopian maids – prompting their country’s Consul General in Dubai to brand their treatment “household slavery”.

Afra Al Basti, Director-General of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC), said there are protection policies in place.

“We have received cases in our foundation (in which people) have been abused, but these are individual cases.

“There are no government policies which support such abuse.”

Al Basti, who is also a Federal National Council member, added: “There are laws which might have some loopholes but they are being addressed.”

She was speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on combatting human trafficking in Dubai yesterday.

She said the currently-pending Federal Law for domestic abuse will address any loopholes.

“I think the new law that is about to be approved by the President is a fair law that will protect all the parties involved.”

Her opinions were echoed by an official from the Sharjah Police Anti-Human Trafficking crime unit.

“There are individual cases of abuse but there are also laws and regulations that protect this category of workers,” said the officer who asked not to be named.

“There is always a need for a better control of these laws both for the domestic workers as well as their employers, it needs to be better organised,” he added.

The Sharjah Police official said that ‘runaway maids’ are at a higher risk of becoming human trafficking victims.

“Maids who run away from their employers are always at a greater risk of becoming a trafficking victim,” he claimed.

“Many of the human trafficking cases we have dealt with are cases of runaway maids who have been lured by their countrymen in a promise of a higher salary only to get stuck in a human trafficking network.”

However, Jafar Eslami, from the Migrant Rights organisation, a non-profit group working for the rights of migrant workers in the Middle East, said that domestic work in the GCC is “a form of slavery.”

“The domestic worker system in the GCC is a kind of slavery but they have a fancy name for it – they call it maids,” Eslami, whose group is based in Amsterdam, claimed.

“It is definitely a modern day slavery.”

Yesterday, 7DAYS reported that maids Hedja Ousman and Wube Tamene had taken refugee in the Ethiopian Consulate in Dubai, claiming they had been badly abused by employers in the UAE.