Saturday, January 12, 2013

Exploitation of 10's of millions of domestic workers: Report

Al-Akhbar

Only 10 percent of the reported 52 million domestic workers worldwide, mostly women, are covered by the same general labor laws as other workers, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report published Wednesday. More than 25% are not covered by any labor legislation in their respective countries.

The ILO estimates that the actual number of domestic workers, compared to the reported figure, is much higher, possibly by tens of millions.

Workers in private households often experience harsher working conditions than other workers in the same countries.

“Domestic workers are frequently expected to work longer hours than other workers and in many countries do not have the same rights to weekly rest that are enjoyed by other workers. Combined with the lack of rights, the extreme dependency on an employer and the isolated and unprotected nature of domestic work can render them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” said Sandra Polaski, ILO Deputy Director-General.

More than half do not have weekly rest hours and live-in domestic workers are often only entitled to set weekly or monthly flat-rates regardless of how many hours they work. In practice, they work whenever they are needed.

Because many of the migrant domestic workers have limited knowledge of the language and laws of their country of residence, they are especially vulnerable to abusive practices such as verbal, physical, and psychological abuse along with unhealthy living and working conditions.

The general lack of legal protection means domestic workers cannot seek remedies.

The number of domestic workers in Lebanon is estimated at around 200,000 of the approximate 1.4 million in the Lebanese workforce. Domestic workers are more often than not, denied just work conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from inhuman treatment, the right to marry, and, or, the right to legal recognition.

Lebanese families hosting migrant domestic workers often block their employees from leaving the house at all, confiscating their passports and travel documents until the end of their terms.

Below is a video depicting stories of abuse experienced by migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, uploaded by the Anti-Racist Movement, a grassroots organization that works to fight against local racist practices.

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