News / Asia

Report Details Severe Abuse of Indonesian Migrant Workers

Indonesian activists wear the names of four Indonesian women, who were allegedly tortured by their employers in Saudi Arabia, stand in front of  the Saudi Arabian Embassy during a demonstration, Aug. 13, 2007 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Indonesian activists wear the names of four Indonesian women, who were allegedly tortured by their employers in Saudi Arabia, stand in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy during a demonstration, Aug. 13, 2007 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

A new report by Human Rights Watch is calling on the Indonesian government to do more to protect its workers overseas. The report comes after a series severe abuse cases among women employed in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

The report, entitled “Rights on the Line: Human Rights Watch Work on Abuses against Migrants in 2010," outlines how Indonesian domestic workers have few protections against abuse overseas, particularly women working in the Middle East.

Indonesia has made some progress on the issue by cracking down on bogus labor recruiters and educating women about the dangers of migration. But Human Rights Watch says not enough attention is being given to a group that contributes around $7 billion to the economy each year.

There are reports that many Indonesian women working as maids or nannies overseas are denied days off and are paid less than promised. There also has been a long list of grim physical abuse cases, including murders and rapes.

Nisha Varia, a women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, says when women are not included in an overseas country's labor laws they lose many of their basic rights and protections.

"In many countries, we see that employers are really scared to allow domestic workers out on a day off because they think that they're going to go out and get pregnant or they're going to bring home men into their house," Varia says. "And these types of behaviors really trap domestic workers in situations where they can be abused."

Indonesia has banned workers from going to Malaysia because of abuses. Around 300,000 Indonesian domestic workers currently work in Malaysia, but negotiations have stalled on revising a 2006 Memorandum of Understanding to give them legal protections, such as a weekly day of rest and a minimum wage requirement.

Many women earn as little as $90 a month over a two year contract since they must turn over the first six months of their earnings to pay the recruitment agencies that helped them land their jobs.

Some are only able to report physical abuse after returning to Indonesia, because police in the countries where they work do little to help.

In November, 23-year-old Sumiati Salan Mustapa was hospitalized in Medina after her Saudi employer allegedly burned her with a hot iron and slashed her face with scissors. The incident sparked widespread condemnation in Indonesia, prompting the government to send a ministerial delegation to Saudi Arabia to follow up on the case and provide legal assistance to Sumiati.

The National Police arrested the head of the agency that sent Sumiati to her abusive employer. Varia says the arrest sends a message that the Indonesian government wants to do something about the abuse.

Other international rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have appealed to several Middle Eastern countries to do more to protect migrant domestic workers.

Varia says cracking down on recruiters is necessary because that is when trafficking happens.

"It's particularly important to focus on what's happening at the recruitment stage, so that migrants end up going through valid recruitment channels with brokers who are actually going to get them the job that they're promised instead of tricking them and putting them in situations of extreme exploitation," she says.

Domestic workers deserve protection, says Human Rights Watch, because the remittances they send home are more stable than many forms of foreign investment.


You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid