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Gulf: Lack of holistic healthcare for pregnant migrant workers & new-mothers leaves women dependent on charitable aid

This report highlights that while hospitals in the Gulf are required to admit women in labour on arrival at the emergency department, irrespective of visa status, they provide no integrated social welfare system for migrants.

During the COVID-10 pandemic, this has further endangered the health of mothers and their children. Before giving birth, workers may not inform employers, fearing reprisals or dismissals, and afterwards find it difficult to access birth certificates or travel documents for newborns.

Besides the obstacles to healthcare, in the Gulf where all countries but Bahrain criminalise sex and pregnancy outside of marriage, migrant workers face stigma, prosecution, imprisonment and deportation.

This report highlights the experiences of many women in different countries and working in different sectors. Many of them rely on community groups and charitable aid to be able to afford the healthcare costs or obtain documentation.

We were staying at the company’s accommodation and they were providing food and everything. The company didn’t know I was pregnant, I stayed there until the day I gave birth at the hospital. When the company found out that I was giving birth, they called me and told me not to come back to the accommodation with the baby. Two days after I gave birth, I received a text message from LMRA saying that my visa has been cancelled.
Mary - a migrant worker to Bahrain, employed in a cleaning company