PUCL Bulletin, Jan, 2001

Indian maids stranded in Kuwait

The Sunday observer of November 12, 2000 published a report on the plight of a large number of Indian Women who had gone to Kuwait mostly as housemaids, and were abused and tortured by their employers and thrown on the roads. They were not paid any money and the employers took their passports away. Some were published into sex rackets.

A very large number of them were reported to be staying in the embassy, without any and any documents. A south Indian actress, Revathi and some Malayalee organisations in Kuwait extended some help. The actress offered tickets to 9 such women who were able to return home in first week of August. The PUCL General Secretary due the attention of Justice Dr. K. Ramaswamy, on November 15, National Human Rights Commission and he promised to take up the matter with the government of India.

Shri Khaled Al-Rajni, director, Kuwait embassy Information office wrote the following letter in the Sunday Observer of November 26:

Ill treatment, not the Kuwaiti norm

This is with reference to an article entitled 'Indian maids taken for a ride in the camel land' by TK Devasia dated 12 November. As mentioned in the first paragraph, Mrs. Majeeda had to part with Rs. 40,000 to get a visa to work in Kuwait, which is she paid to the recruiting agent, who must be obviously and Indian. However she made a mistake or was taken for a wide ride by the agent, who did not inform her of the working condition sand other essential information about the prospective employer. Unfortunately Mrs. Majeeda suffered again at the hands of an agent in Kuwait; here the need is to know the agent's whereabouts.

The fourth paragraph of the article mentions that Mrs. Majeeda worked for seven Arab families in the short span of 18 months. Instead of acting on the will of the agent, she should have contracted the agent in India regarding the situation in which she found herself.

Ill-treatment of the employee is wide spread around the world. However, there are three lakh Indian's working in Kuwait, most of whom have no cause for complaint. We are not in nay way supporting the ill treatment towards unskilled labourers, but statistics show that the numbers of Indian maids have increased in Kuwait.

The need is for more organised and clear-cut policies towards the recruitment of these unskilled labourers who are taken for a ride by the recruiting agents and their employers.

We would like to inform the readers as well as prospective workers in Kuwait that:

· Ill-treatment cases are isolated and not the rule.
· The recruiting agents to whom money is paid are Indian.
· These maids can always approach the ministry of justice, State of Kuwait. There are strict laws to protect the expatriates.
· There are Indian organisations working towards helping these victimized maids. The maids can lodge complaints, which show the democratic spirit of Kuwait, in rescuing these unfortunate maids from the clutches of their employers.
· The two governments at various intervals had meetings and are working hard regarding this social issue to save these unfortunate workers from the clutches of agents and employers.
One more thing to remember is most of the time the press blows the news out of proportion. They should instead try and catch those agents who show a false paradise to these victims, which will help the government as well as the people to become aware of such agencies.

-Khaled Al-Razni
Director, Kuwait Embassy
Information Office

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