Bahrain sees surge in unpaid maid cases
Manama, August 9, 2014
A total of 16 housemaids have been given sanctuary at a women's shelter in Bahrain in the last four weeks, making it the highest figure recorded within eight months, a report said.
However, the 'unusual surge' at the Migrant Workers' Protection Society (MWPS) shelter has not been attributed to allegations of abuse often associated with long working hours during Ramadan and the Eid holidays, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
MWPS chairwoman Marietta Dias said the women, mostly from India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia, ran away from their Bahraini employers because of claims of non-payment of salaries.
'The numbers went up unusually and women have been pouring in even after Eid, which has nothing to do with Ramadan or the festive season,' she told the GDN.
'All the cases are related to non-payment of wages and follow the regular pattern of women trying to run away as they are not paid.
'We usually have an average of eight to nine women, but 16 during the last week is a rise from the normal.
'Four of the women are Ethiopians and the remaining are Indians, Sri Lankans and other African countries.'
Dias said most of the women insisted on going back home instead of sticking around to get the money owed to them through Bahrain's courts.
'The procedures are long and the women usually are so distressed that they want nothing but to go back home, even without claiming their pending wages,' she said.
‘We are trying our best to help them go back and as usual, most of them travel back empty-handed. The employers do not agree to pay their wages or pay for their tickets and it is usually the embassies or the MWPS that provide the tickets.'
The GDN had earlier reported that the shelter in Manama gave sanctuary to 156 women last year Ð up from 124 in 2012.
Sri Lankan Embassy charge d'affaires Senarath Yapa confirmed that four of their nationals were at the shelter, which he said was 'higher than normal'.
'We usually have one or two cases once in a while, whereas two months before it was nil, and most of the time the cases are manageable,' he said. 'Now there are four of them, who do not want to work as they are homesick. 'We spoke to the employers and are liaising regarding their salaries, as they haven't completed their contract.'
Indian Embassy first secretary Ram Singh said they have provided air tickets to two of the five Indian women at the shelter.
'As a policy of the embassy, we provide tickets to any woman, who works as a housemaid and approaches us with a request for the same,' he said. 'We also give them all support within the scope of the embassy, and will speak to the employer if needed.'
The GDN reported last month that there was a drop in the number of foreign housemaids coming forward with allegations of abuse during Ramadan.
In previous years, extended working hours and claims of general mistreatment during the holy month were blamed for large numbers of domestic workers fleeing their employers and seeking shelter.
Domestic workers account for around 8.5 per cent of Bahrain's total population, with Labour Market Regulatory Authority figures showing the number of registered domestic workers reached 105,203 in the first quarter of this year. – TradeArabia News Service