Ethiopian maids continue to suffer in the Middle East

The amateur video shot in Kuwait last week showing Ethiopian maids falling from the 7th floor, reveals the continued abuse of Ethiopian maids in the Middle East.

Instead of helping the falling maid, the person inside the house was filming the incident and then posted on social media. Reports show that between the years 2010 – 2015 some half a million Ethiopians have travelled to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the other neighboring states in search of employment.

The video went viral on twitter for two days with hash tag – Ethiopia falling until finally broadcasted by the British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC). It is not yet known that weather the Ethiopian lady was trying to commit suicide or not, according to the report.

To avoid the abuses of its citizens Ethiopian government has taken several actions including banning the travel for sometime and training the housemaids before departure.

Women workers migrate to Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East chiefly from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Nepal, and Ethiopia, for financial reasons that include the desire to support their children, invest in small businesses, or buy a house back in their home country. Domestic workers generally migrate to Kuwait via recruitment agencies in their home countries that maintain relationships with agents in Kuwait.

A report shows that in 2009, embassies of labor-sending countries in Kuwait City received more than 10,000 complaints from domestic workers about nonpayment of wages, excessively long working hours without rest, and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Many more abuses likely remain unreported.

Domestic workers have few avenues for redress. Kuwait’s labor laws exclude domestic workers, while its immigration laws prohibit them from “absconding” from the workplace—leaving or changing jobs without their employer’s consent.

The major contributing factor to domestic workers’ vulnerability is Kuwait’s kafala(sponsorship) system, according to Human Rights Watch report of 2010.