Gender - Domestic Workers -
Trafficking + in Qatar
SEEKS TO HELP DOMESTIC WORKERS
The Peninsula - 11 September, 2008
The National Office for Combating Human Trafficking (NOCHT) has launched an initiative to resolve the grievances of domestic helpers and their disputes with their employers, in collaboration with the embassies of the countries from where the workers are hired.
Mariam Al Malki, NOCHT Director, said the office had planned the initiative in cooperation with government and non-governmental bodies as part of its effort to combat human trafficking.
"NOCHT is conducting periodic meetings with members of diplomatic missions of major domestic worker-exporting countries, like Indonesia, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia. The aim is to discuss ways of resolving prevailing conflicts between the domestic helpers and their sponsors," she said.
Al Malki said the initiative can help find temporary solutions to the increasing problems between the workers and their employers, at least until a law governing the relationship between them comes into force.
NOCHT recently held a consultative meeting with a representative from the Indonesian Embassy at the former's premises. At the meeting, attended by Al Malki, the difficulties Indonesian housemaids face, such as the recruitment process, medical check-ups and lack of familiarity with the local culture, were discussed. The two parties looked at ways of resolving these problems.
Riyadhi Assirdid, Consular Attache at the Indonesian Embassy, told The Peninsula yesterday the meeting between the diplomat and NOCHT was aimed at easing the difficulties faced by housemaids. "I can say the result of the discussion was positive," he said.
The employers believe educating the housemaids about local cultural values can go a long way in preventing actions that clash with Qatari social norms. The embassy officials pointed to the need for covering this segment with a law to ensure proper protection for the maids from various forms of exploitation.
There are 17,000 housemaids and 4,000 skilled and non-skilled workers from Indonesia in Qatar. Out of the 300 complaints received by the embassy so far this year, most were from housemaids who had suffered sexual and physical abuse. The remaining complaints mostly related to delay or non-payment of wages, Assirdid said.
Till date there are no laws here that govern the working hours, remuneration and working conditions of domestic workers, who include, aside from maids, cooks, gardeners, drivers and helpers.
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