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1-03-2012 - Arab Times/Khaled Aljenfawi

Change sponsorship system

Domestics need protection

"Police rushed to rescue an Ethiopian housemaid who was beaten black and blue by her sponsor's son, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily. Sources say passers-by heard the woman shouting for help and alerted Farwaniya police who rushed to the scene and found the woman crying. The woman, who sustained several injuries, said she was beaten because she was a little slow in ironing the clothes of her sponsor's son. Police will summon the suspect for interrogation" (Arab Times- Feb 17 2012).

The recent incident of the beating of an Ethiopian housemaid is just the tip of an iceberg of a continuing repugnant criminal behavior. Many other domestic helpers go through similar inhumane treatment but a huge number of these abuses continue to be unreported. So far, we have not seen a serious application of our strict laws to protect other vulnerable domestic helpers, especially females. Such abusive behavior, directed against domestic helpers, will in fact continue if the government does not start immediately to apply harsh punishments against those accused of this criminal behavior.

In addition, such criminal acts of maids' abuse go against our Arabic and Islamic moral values. According to our Islamic tradition, even verbal abuse against maids, drivers, cooks...etc is prohibited because it violates the expected Muslim "righteousness" and good Islamic manners. Muslims are supposed to behave well and in accordance with divine moral laws which forbid for instance any kind of abuse against any one, Muslims and others. However, in this day and age it would be ironic to just reprimand those abusers of domestic helpers for not being good Muslims! What will be more effective in fighting such gruesome and inhumane actions against maids is severe punishment, and long imprisonment. Abuse of any kind directed against any human being just because the victim is a foreigner or a vulnerable person violates basic international human rights. Domestic helpers are human beings just like us Kuwaitis and expatriate sponsors and they deserve better treatment. However, the humane treatment of domestic helpers can only be guaranteed through the application of more effective laws.

Our government needs to create numerous channels of communication through which those in distress can reach help. In addition, the government needs to change the current system of sponsorship (Article 20) and find a better substitute which can protect the rights of domestic helpers. Leaving the current sponsorship as it is right now can only be interpreted as an open invitation for more abuse against vulnerable human beings.


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