Migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are beaten, exploited, and trapped in forced labor situations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The UAE government, about to take up an influential new role in the International Labour Organization (ILO), has failed to adequately protect female domestic workers – many of them from the Philippines – from abuse by employers and recruiters.
The 79-page report, “‘I Already Bought You’: Abuse and Exploitation of Female Migrant Domestic Workers in the United Arab Emirates”, documents how the UAE’s visa sponsorship system, known as kafala, and the lack of labor law protections leave migrant domestic workers exposed to abuse. Domestic workers, most from Asia and Africa, cannot move to a new job before their contracts end without the employer’s consent, trapping many in abusive conditions. Labor-sending countries don’t fully protect the workers against deceptive recruitment practices or provide adequate assistance to abused nationals abroad.