Human Rights Watch report says recruitment agencies complicit in exploitation of Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman & UAE, including sexual exploitation & excessive working hours

A report by Human Rights Watch on the abuse suffered by Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman & UAE says employment agencies are complicit in the workers' exploitation, including physical and sexual abuse, and excessing working conditions. It calls on the three governments to ensure proper regulation of recruitment agencies to ensure the workers are protected from such exploitation.

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20 November 2017

Report on how recruitment agencies contribute to exploitation of Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman & the United Arab Emirates

Author: Human Rights Watch

"'Working Like a Robot": Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates"

Thousands of Tanzanian women toil as domestic workers in the Middle East, cleaning, caring, and cooking for their employer’s families. Each year, hundreds more follow, often with promises of salaries ten times what they could earn at home. Some find decent working conditions and good salaries. Many others work excessively long hours for little pay, and are subject to physical and sexual abuse. Some end up trapped in situations of forced labor. One domestic worker said, “it is like a game of cards, you can win or lose.”...

Workers reported that recruitment agents in Oman and the UAE charged extra fees, failed to assist them, or abused them. Several also said when they complained about underpayment their employers told them they agreed on a lower salary with the Omani or UAE agent. Some agents in Oman took the first one or two months of workers’ salaries to pay for their recruitment costs despite charging employers for the same costs. For instance, “Asilia H.,” paid her agent in Tanzania 300,000 TZS ($138) for her passport but still had to pay the agent in Oman two months’ salary. Other agents in Oman and the UAE forced workers to pay for their flight tickets if they wished to leave before the contract ended, despite contracts requiring employers to pay. Some other country-of-origin embassies require the recruitment agency to pay for workers’ return flight tickets.

“Nafisa R.,” 22, who went to Oman in 2015, wished to return home after her mother’s death. Her agent in Oman charged her 70 OMR ($182) to recoup recruitment costs. When the employer found out, he argued, “I paid for everything for my domestic worker, why are you taking money from her?” But the agent did not pay Nafisa back, and she returned to her employer to work a further two months to raise money for her flight tickets. When workers complained to agencies about exploitative working conditions, most said agents provided little to no help. Agents often told them to bear with their employers, or gave them advice on how to avoid their employers in cases of sexual harassment but did not remove them from their workplaces or report their employers to the police.

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