Dubai: Reforms undertaken by governments in the Middle East to protect domestic workers from abuse are insufficient to shield women working as house maids from abuse and violence, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.
Millions of mostly Asian women who work in countries like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates remain at risk of human trafficking, forced labour, confinement and sexual violence, the New York-based group said.
Although several governments have made improvements for migrant domestic workers in the past five years, reform has been slow and incremental, Nisha Varia, the group's senior researcher of women's rights said.
"There has been a big change in the sense that these countries are recognising there is a problem," Varia said in a phone interview.
"But while many governments are introducing reforms, most have yet to implement them."
The 26-page report released yesterday documents progress in extending protections to mostly Asian women working as house maids in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the Emirates.
Women working in private homes often work 20-hour days, face forced confinement and are sometimes physically and sexually abused, the report said.
Domestic work in foreign countries is an important source of employment for women in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Nepal, India, and Ethiopia. Their earnings abroad amount to much of the billions of dollars of remittances sent home each year.
First Published: Friday, April 30, 2010, 09:33