Jordan: Treatment of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights migrant workers condemned - new report

Tens of thousands of female migrant domestic workers in Jordan live in appalling conditions with many forced to work up to 19 hours per day and denied their salary, said Amnesty International today (30 October), as it published a new report on the issue.

Amnesty has also documented numerous cases of employers in Jordan subjecting domestic workers to severe physical abuse. In one case a Filipina woman in her 40s was locked in a room for two hours with a man the employer’s family had asked to beat her. She was severely beaten (photograph available of her injuries).

In other cases Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have been raped and driven to suicide, with studies showing that domestic workers are much more likely to take their own lives than any other group.

The problem is so severe that each of the embassies of Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka (from where the bulk of the country’s 40,000 registered Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights migrant domestic workers Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights originate) have established shelters for the migrant workers. Amnesty is calling on the Jordanian authorities to urgently put in place legal safeguards for migrant workers, in particular by following through with ongoing legislative efforts to protect workers

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director Philip Luther said:

“We call on the Jordanian authorities to seize this golden opportunity to make the exploitative conditions currently faced by migrant domestic workers a thing of the past. Their actions should be bold enough to match the scale of the abuses.”

In July 2008 the Jordanian Parliament amended its Labour Law, with one amendment stipulating that a separate regulation would be issued to define the terms of employment for migrant domestic workers, including their working hours and rest periods. This regulation is currently being prepared by the government.

Amnesty’s report shows how many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights migrant domestic workers:

* Live in virtual imprisonment in their employer’s home from the moment they arrive in the country. They are often locked in the home, forced to work long hours and not paid some, or any, of their meagre wages by their employer, who also confiscates their passports.

* Suffer from physical, psychological and sexual abuse. They are slapped, kicked, beaten, spat at and threatened with violence, usually by members of the employer’s household. Several have fallen to their deaths in recent years in circumstances recorded as accidents but which remain inadequately investigated and explained. Around ten domestic workers are believed to commit suicide every year.

* Are reported to be routinely beaten by representatives of some recruitment agencies shortly after their arrival in Jordan. The aim of this is to frighten workers and discourage them from running away or from making complaints about their employers.

Amnesty is warning that while safeguards were introduced in 2003 in the form of a special contract for migrant domestic workers, they appear to have had little impact in practice. The special contract does not specify any punishment for the employer if the contract’s conditions, which include rights to medical care, one day off a week and timely payment of wages, are not met.

Abuse of migrant workers in Jordan is reinforced by a climate of impunity enjoyed by recruitment agencies, both in Jordan and in the countries where migrant workers come from, where regulation and monitoring is inadequate.

Meanwhile, Amnesty is calling on the Jordanian government to immediately establish government-funded shelters for domestic workers fleeing abuse or exploitation.

Philip Luther added:

“The Jordanian authorities must subject the practices of recruitment agencies to proper scrutiny and bring to justice all those responsible for abuses of migrant domestic workers, whether they are employers or representatives of agencies.”

  • Download the report (PDF)
  • Find out more about Amnesty's campaign to Women's rights's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights /li>

View latest press releases