Migrant workers in Kuwait

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Migrant workers in Kuwait constitute around 30% of the population.[1] The group of workers most prone to face abuse were the thousands of women employed as domestic servants, mostly nationals of south and south-east Asian countries.

Kafeel sponsorship system[edit]

Kuwait's foreign worker sponsorship system mandates that expatriates must be sponsored by a local employer to get a work permit. In August 2008, MP Abdullah Al-Roumi declared that he was going to draft a law to scrap Kuwait’s "kafeel" foreign worker sponsorship system: "The government should be the only kafeel... We have scores of bachelors residing in Kuwait with an equal number of crimes. Many are caused due to the 'trading with humans' issue which taints the reputation of Kuwait." [2][3] The government is currently planning to scrap the 'sponsorship system' in favor of a new system will be implemented to allow the expatriate workers to transfer their residence permits to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.[4]

Minimum wage[edit]

In the parliamentary debates over the Kuwaiti minimum wage, MPs Askar Al-Enezi and Sadoon Al-Otaibi have dismissed past wage increases as “too small” and not enough to meet the steep hikes in consumer prices. On February 21, 2008, the parliament approved a 120 dinar ($440) monthly pay rise for nationals in the public and private sectors after inflation hit 7.3%, a 15-year high. It also decided to raise by 50 dinars ($183) the pay of foreigners employed by the government. In response, Al-Enezi said, “We reject this increase because it is well below expectations. We urge the government to review its decision." [5]

Anti-trafficking reform[edit]

In September 2008, MP Saleh Al-Mulla demanded from Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Bader Al-Duwailah a list of companies involved in human trafficking. Mulla also asked about the measures taken against the violating companies and other steps that would be taken in the future to prevent such violations from taking place.[6]

Blacklist for those who mistreat foreign workers[edit]

On October 2, 2007, Waleed Al-Tabtabaie called for the interior ministry to draw up a blacklist of employers who mistreat their domestic helpers and urged stiff penalties for physical abuse. Al-Tabtabaie said that employers who abuse their maids "physically or morally" should be added to the blacklist and prevented from hiring new maids. Al-Tabtabie, a member of parliament's human rights panel, argued that the phenomenon of maid abuse "has lately increased to a disturbing level and a large number of abuses are committed annually, with most cases failing to reach the court." [7] In September 2007, Kuwait opened a temporary shelter to house runaway maids until their disputes with employers are resolved. The Kuwaiti government plans to open two permanent centres for males and females to be housed separately.[7]

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