Domestic Workers Rights in Kuwait

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 12
Words: 3821
Reading time:
14 min
Study level: PhD

There are mMany issues get involved with the rights of foreign bornregarding domestic workers’ rights in Kuwait. In this This paper my main focus is on highlighting some of the intended and unintended effects of the policies made in Kuwait for domestic workers. is highlighting the issues faced by domestic workers in Kuwait. It discusses the policies made for these issues and what are the intended and unintended effects of the policy made for issues. It further presents some observations.My paper will thoroughly review the issues related to workers’ compensation, their freedom and also issues related to Kuwaiti citizens.

Brief Description

Kuwait Like the other Middle Eastern countries, Kuwait also has a huge number of immigrants who come in search of jobs in different sectors. is one of the Middle Eastern countries, which has a movement of ongoing migrant workers who come to work in different sections of the country. These Large numbers of domestic workers are female H workers include a large number of housemaids or male house workers (drivers, cookers) which is the main that are and those are the target focus of this policy paper. Domestic workers work in houses as luxurious a result of the lifestyle in most of the rich Arabic countries with that have a system policy ofcalled sponsorship or “Kafeel” means sponsor. In Kuwait there are numerous private agencies, that are specialized in exporting workers from other countries to work in homes. Those agencies are categorized under the private section sector as “not non governmental”, however, it is operated under governmental authority.

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There is an agreement signed between-governments (Kuwait and others) regarding the obligations and rights of both sidescountries and their citizens. The major countries that Kuwait has domestic workers agreements with are Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, and recently African countries were added to the system, including such as Ethiopia, Uganda and Ghana. The “Kafeel” or sponsor is the person who orders red the nanny domestic worker. This individual mustshould be the male or the husband in a family, because but single males cannot be a “Kafeel” of for a domestic who is performing the role of a nanny. The same applies to as well as single females. However, a divorced female can be a sponsor of domestic worker (Keane, 2008).

Many issues get are involved in determining the rights of the regarding domestic workers’ in Kuwait.rights. Basically, there is an agreement between Kuwait and the country of the migrants their rights are agreed upon between their country and Kuwait as under“between countries agreements”regarding the rights of the domestic workers. Also Kuwait has also signed 7 out of 8 major international human rights agreements concerning labor and labor rights. Moreover, Kuwait has a domestic workers bureau named (Ministry of social affairs and labor) that has its own law to protect those workers. However, the law is being violated or not fully activated yet.,Consequently , as a result cases of worker’s rights are not being solved in a systematic and organized manner under being left to be solved case by case and not recording to organized application of some specific policy in the country. Lack of appropriate policies regarding worker’s rights is a matter of concern in a country that witnesses an increasing number of The problem is that the migration of house maids’domestic workers migration movement is increasing annually, and the policies of worker’s rights are not being affective (Sattethwaite, n.d.).

Domestic housemaids usually gets monthly salaries between 50-90 Kuwaiti Dinars K.D ($176- $318) dependings on their countries contract. Philippines workers get the maximum salary among all other nationalities. That raises a huge injustice issue and reveals an obvious discrimination between of workers’s nationalities.y. However, these issues are determined Even though it’s in view of the “between countries agreement” but less paid workers feel dejected as they with different nationalities do the perform the same household tasks and come with similar education backgrounds. Usually the those house-keepers work all day long in the houses and do many tasks,hence, so the amount of salary might not be sufficient or fair in comparison to their hard work. to what they are doing. Moreover, in a country like Also, those workers are working in Kuwait where usually individual’s monthly salaries ranges from (800- 1500 K.D) $2826- $5300 for average employees. So those housemaids’ the wages of these domestic workersare extremely low compared to the tasks they do as well as other country’s wages. This is a significant matter and demands result a wide gap and calls for an obvious justice for these people who have come in search of work to earn their livelihood.issue. Kuwaiti citizens who employ those workers argue that they those workers have minimum education qualification, and that Kuwait had an agreement with their countries to help them with their poverty. Thus, there is a lot of disagreementdiscrepancy about raising house maidshousemaids’ salaries. In addition, Kuwaiti citizens argue that they offer their housemaids a free housing, free food and helps with medical care expenses which is usually supported by the government. “House maids should pay minimum fees to get good quality medical care in Kuwait”. However, if we compare with US minimum wage standards, housemaids in Kuwait get about $1.00- $3.00 per hour (Shaw, 2010).

Kuwait has received many warnings from International Human rights organizations because of the domestic violence against house workers. Hence, this paper will focus on the issues related to rights of domestic workers in Kuwait. It will also discuss the authenticity and adequacy of the domestic workers’policies, their implementation, and the violations. of the protection laws. Also, we will be discussing the injustice that those workers are facing and the applications of domestic workers’ policies in Kuwait.

Legislation, edicts, or other governmental actions to put the policy in place:

Kuwait is a constitutional emirate which has a parliamentary system. The head of the state is the Emir Sabah-Al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah and Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-jabir al-Sabah is the crown prince. The head of the government is the Prime Minister. The Emir has right to appoint the prime minister and deputy prime minister. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the prime minister. Kuwait’s law system is civil that follows Sharia law for personal matters. It has an independent judiciary. There is a Constitutional court, a Cassation Court and a court of appeals (The Political system of Kuwait, 2013).

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“In the application of the provisions of the General Law, the following terms shall mean: The General Law describes the following as:

  1. “The Ministry includes: The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.
  2. The Minister includes: The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor.
  3. The Worker: The worker is any male or female person who works physically or mentally for his or her employer on some fixed wages. Any male or female person who performs a manual or mental work for an employer under the employer’s management and supervision against remuneration.
  4. The Employer: The employer is a person who uses the services of the workers legally and pays them wages. Every natural or legal person who uses the services of workers against remuneration.
  5. The Organization: An organization that gathers workers or employers with similar or related businesses, occupations or jobs in order to protect their interests, defend their rights and represent them in all matters related to their affairs” (Kuwait Labor Law, 2010, chp.2).

According to the As for the system of Labor law, Article 9 in Kuwaiti labor law system says, “There shall be established a public authority that shall be a corporate body with an independent budget, and named The Public Authority for Manpower, under the supervision of the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor. It shall have the responsibilities given to the Ministry under this Law and undertake the importation and employment of expatriate manpower upon the request of employers. A law that regulates the said Public Authority shall be issued within one year after the date of entry into force of this Law” (Kuwait Labor Law, 2010, chp.2).

History and Cultural background

In the beginning of the Starting the 1950’s, Kuwait was going through many types of developmental changes including socially, economically and culturally changes. Subsequently,Resulting those changes there were many openings in jobs’ market for varied many specialties. Kuwaiti citizens were meant to fulfill the need of the most important governmental and other private sectors jobs, whereas other low profile labor jobs were available for law labor other workers. Those jobs were on many working levels, however, mMany housewives started were starting to work outside their homes, and thus there was a need for to housekeepers to do the household tasks works. Thus, For this purpose housemaids with short-term contracts (usually 2 years) were kept coming to work in Kuwaiti (Shaw, 2010).

Many Kuwaiti agencies were opened to export domestic labors to Kuwait. Theose jobs needed individuals with no or minimum educational backgrounds. Usually, countries with of hugesignif icant poverty populations were targeted to do the business. Theose labors belonged to were coming from lower financial status in Arabic and East Asian countries. However, the targeted countries haved changed over years and , now a days domestic workers migrate mostly comes from African countries and East Asian countries s. The exporting of domestic labor has significantly increased after the Iraqi war on Kuwait in on 1990 and as due to many other social phenomenaphenomenons.

Currently, in Kuwait foreign workers consist two thirds of the total population, which means they are the majority in the country. The increase is was correlatedlinked with many negative results. Many of the disadvantages of this issue are is that labors have minimum rights assured by their agencies “both locally and the Kuwaiti”. Their local agencies are busy looking for available jobs for applicants, neglecting the importance of assuring eaffective polices and laws that will protect their labor. Similarly, Kuwait hasve developed very few policies regarding foreign domestic workers, thus, their rights as humans and as labors are being violated in on many ways.

Unfortunately, there are very few studies or surveys about the rights of foreign domestic workers because it has is not been an interest area of interest of studies for Kuwaiti researchers. This Dearth of leads to less advocate work done onin this subject leads to inadequate understanding of resulting inin the problems resulting in leading Kuwait to have multiple warnings to Kuwait from Human rights agencies both Arabic and internationally (Shaw, 2010).

In Kuwait, Labor issues and policies are being operated by formal and governmental institutions. However, the important sector is the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor in Kuwait. This ministry is responsible for about organizing resolving labor issues and establishing laws regarding them.

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There is one general policy about Domestic Workers Law in Kuwait (appendix A), and it has different sections concerning domestic workers rights and obligations., uUnfortunately, the policy is general in nature and has no specifications of housemaids’ rights as domestic workers. For instance, this law has 15 chapters, each with different articles discussing the specifications of workers’ rights. However, there is no law or policy to assure its proper implementation.individuals’ following it correctly.

Islamic basis for the policy

Islam came with the Qur’an as an important source of laws that guide and direct humans with their actions towards what is required by Allah and it is always about the good deeds. In different Suras “cites” Qur’an encourages lenience when dealing with those who people are responsible on or employers” “are paid workers”. It always reminds the human that Allah might have given you some people more than he gave the others for some reasons. Hence, people having more wealth and prosperity should not be arrogant and must that you should not feel that you are better or riches just because Allah loves or bless you. Allah let people realize that the blesses are given to be appreciated but not to develop sense of arrogance. And remember to be kind, respectful and generous to those with less fortune. “It is We who have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world and have raised some of them above others in degrees [of rank] that they may make use of one another for service. But the mercy of your Lord is better than whatever they accumulate” (The holy Qur’an, Al-zukhruf 43:32). The Qur’an also cited to follow prophet Mohammad in his behaviors with others or those who wants to be rewarded with heaven after life “ There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often” [The Qur’an; Al-ahzab 33:21].

Slavery in old Arab world/ before Islam

Prophet Mohammad’s life is full of incidents and sayings of him emphasize assuring the importance of being extremely kind to the people who work for you. Anas ibn malik was a servant for Prophet Mohammad, “servant title was preferred by people who work for prophet Mohammad as an honor title, but he used to title him a “Sahabi” or“friend”. Anas’s mom brought him to Mohammad when he was 10 years old to help in housekeeping and learn from him. He worked for 10 years in Mohammad’s house and he said: Mohammad never questioned me of thing I made, never told me why you do such thing or why you don’t [Al bokhari]. Also, Abi Mas’od Al Ansari “another Sahabi” of Mohammad said: I was beating a “gholam”; young boy who work for him, and I’ve heard a voice coming behind me saying: Abi Mas’od You should know that Allah has more powers on you than you have on this young man. Then he saw prophet Mohammad, and repliedy to him; dear Mohammad, this young man is free for the sake of god. Mohammad repliedy; if you wouldn’t say that you’d be touched by the hellfire [Muslim]. Prophet Mohammad’s was the one who stood for slaves and servant’s rights and tried very hard to change people’s minds and ways of communicating with people of less authority.

Also, Mohammad recommended people not to give workers tasks that they can not handle or finish or not to assign them with numerous tasks that can led to their tiredness, if ones did, they should help them with those tasks. Thus, prophet Mohammad said: “servants are your brothers whom Allah has put under your authority. So whoever has his brother under his authority should feed him from what he eats and clothe him from what he wears. Also, do not charge them with work that is too much for them, and if you charge them, then assist them with it.” [al-Bukhari and Muslim].

In addition, Prophet Mohammad said regarding in paying employees their wage: “Give the wage earner their money before their sweat gets dry” means to give the employee their wage immediately. However, ijma and qiyas agree to give permission to delay the salary with the workers agreement. Mohammad also considered aliments for domestic workers are “sadaqah” or charity by saying: “if you feed your self is charity, if you your kids is charity, is you feed your wife is charity, and if you feed your worker/employee is charity”.

Also, it was known about Prophet Mohammad that he recommended his friends to be gentle with the workers. His wife Aisha said: “Mohammad never beat anything with his hands unless it’s war. But never beat a women or servant”

The intended effects of the policy:

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The main issue of Kuwait’s legislative approach is that it reports domestic workers’ rights indirectly either through rules of recruitment agencies or through a standard format of employment contract. Nothing is stated in law about the relationship between the employer and domestic workers. As there are no rights clarified under labor law, iIt is difficult to find the situation in which a domestic worker runs away and in which an employer is not satisfied with the work of his domestic worker. According to Iman Ereiqat, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration, Kuwait, “We need a balance law that protects the rights of both sides, the employer and the workers” (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013, p.66).

The Kuwait Social Work Society organized a research, where personal interviews of domestic workers were conducted taken and on the basis of the such findings, the Kuwaiti 2012 draft law is prepared. Following are the three basic changes, which were made in this draft by Sheikha Bibi Al Sabah, the founder of Social Work Society:

  • Removing the sponsorship system
  • A suitable screening of recruitment agencies under the proper guidance of Ministry of Commerce
  • Assurance Establishing the guarantee of healthy working atmosphere with fixed working hours, minimum salary and relaxing period (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013).

A revolutionary monitoring concept is also introduced in which female employees of MOI will do the inspection of the houses where domestic workers are employed. The domestic workers will be asked about the working atmosphere, treatment by the employer and his family, or if they have any other complaint. The documents related to the workers’ employment will also be checked (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013).

Many people in Kuwait want to improve the rights of all people in Kuwait. The changes in the system of domestic workers in Kuwait will need recosiderationthinking of values and big adjustments in the daily routine of Kuwaiti people. Arab culture emphasizes on the privacy of the family and not many people will agree to support laws promoting saying family interaction with a domestic worker.

A female owner of the Philippine recruitment agency says that “Since there is a new parliament now, I hope they would look into the issue and resolve it once and for all,” she told Kuwait Times (Garcia, 2012).

The workers will come to know about their important right that keeping passports by the employer is not legal. According to a Judge, Labor Court, Kuwait, In court, I ask the sponsor: Can I take away your hand, your body, your hair? No. The passport is like a piece of your body. It belongs to every human being and you cannot take it away from them. When I order a sponsor to hand back the passport to an employee, I make a point of not having the sponsor give the passport to me so that I would hand it back to the worker. No. The sponsor has to understand that it is the worker’s right to have the passport even without the court interference. He has to give it back to the worker himself” (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013, p.83).

The unintended effects of the policy

There will be a big improvement in the living and working conditions of many domestic workers employed in Kuwait. “The convention and its accompanying recommendation are founded on the fundamental premise that domestic workers are neither servants, nor members of the family nor second class workers” (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013, p.69). There will be a call for treating domestic workers and general workers equally along with. There would be a guarantee of assuring protections to domestic workers.

Domestic workers will know about their all rights and would live happier life after getting solved all their major problems related to their work are resolved properly. They will re will be a readinessenthusiastically to move forward. The workers will be aware about human rights (Braunmiller, 2013).

If the wages would be raised as per their demands and also if they would get other facilities, the workers will have sense of fulfillmentachievement and will always stick to their jobs for long.

Known or likely abuses of the policy

There is a possibility of mishandling this policy. It is possible that the workers after getting all their rights according to policy will not be as sincere about their work as they were before. They may take their jobs as for granted. They may later ask for more rights after getting these rights by thinking that their other demands would also be fulfilled.

They may cheat their employers if they will get the rights like keeping their passports with themselves. In such cases there will be a more possibility of leaving jobs without informing the employer if the domestic worker is if the workers will be even a little dissatisfied with any of the facility of the employer. They may not do the adjustments and may not be as cooperative as their jobs will demand.

International law and the U.N. declaration of Human Rights

The Kabe Human Rights group which was listed with MOSAL in the year of 2005 accepted the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. Its message is “to uphold human rights from an Islamic perspective,” and its objective is “spreading awareness of human rights appropriated by Islamic Sharia” (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013, p.97).

Kabe focuses on many other different human rights but as for migrant domestic worker’s human rights, it has started an advertising campaign. The advertisement campaign was aired on Kuwaiti television and it conveyed the message of Prophet Mohammad, which is “Pay the laborer his wages before his sweat dries” (The protection of rights of migrants domestic works in a country of origin and country of destination, 2013, p.97).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “represents the universal recognition that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone, and that every one of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights. Whatever our nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status, the international community on December 10 1948 made a commitment to upholding dignity and justice for all of us” (The Foundation of International Human Rights Law, n.d., para 2).

The policy reconciles with UDHR as it also focuses now on treating both the employer and worker equally and gives human rights to the workers.

Conclusion and Final Observations:

There is an urgent It is drastically needed to improve that the working conditions of domestic workers in Kuwait. Efforts should be made to provide them improve and they get all their human rights. It is also needed that workers condition should be monitored by visiting the homes of their employers and having discussions with them. Payment system should be changed like opening a salary account for them where they can receive direct deposits. The cases of abuses must be thoroughly investigated to know the actual person’s actual fault.

References

Braunmiller, J. (2013). The protection of the rights of migrant domestic workers in a country of origin and a country of destination: Case studies of the Philippines and Kuwait. Protection Project. Web.

Garcia, B. (2012). Kuwait: New Parliament urged to pass labor law. IDWN. R. Web.

Keane, D., & McGeehan, N. (2008). Enforcing Migrant Workers’ Rights in the United Arab Emirates. International Journal On Minority & Group Rights, 15(1), 81-115.

Kuwait labor law. (2010). Web.

Satterthwaite, M. L. (2005). Crossing Borders, Claiming Rights: Using Human Rights Law to Empower Women Migrant Workers. Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal. Vol 8.

Shaw, J. (2010). From Kuwait to Korea: the diversification of Sri Lankan labour migration. Journal Of The Asia Pacific Economy, 15 (1), 59-70.

The foundation on international human rights law. (n.d.) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Web.

The political system of Kuwait. (2013). Helen Ziegler and Associates.

The protection of the rights of migrant domestic workers in a country of origin and a country of destination. (2013). International Human Rights Clinic. Web.