Jordan: Facebook provides platform for domestic workers recruitment agencies allegedly linked to modern slavery
Every week, ads aired on the radio in Jordan offer “one-month trial” periods and “cash on delivery” options for employers who want to hire migrant domestic workers. Online ads via social media such as Facebook also boast offers like "Delivery in 30 days," and "Enjoy a month of discounts on maid.”
An estimated 50,000 registered domestic workers live in Jordan, in addition to tens of thousands of undocumented domestic workers. Most of them are women.
Most come from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Uganda, attracted by the opportunity to escape grinding poverty in their home countries. Some come through agencies that offer two-year contracts with promises of lucrative incomes that will allow workers to send money home. Others find direct contacts with families. But many end up trapped in situations of abuse and labor exploitation
Human Rights Watch documented employers in Jordan who beat domestic workers, locked them inside the house, deprived them of food and denied them medical care. The human rights group found abuses of domestic workers to be systematic. A United States State Department report published last year denounced the non-payment of wages, illegal confiscation of passports, unsafe living conditions and long hours without rest for domestic workers in Jordan.
The discrimination starts at recruitment agencies, which often treat migrant domestic workers as commodities. Approximately 190 such agencies exist in Jordan, according to the Ministry of Labor. They display online catalogs of domestic workers describing the women’s complexion, religion, weight and height, and pricing them according to the country of origin. Recruitment agencies' Facebook pages display domestic workers' personal information and describe their complexion, religion, weight, and height. The catalogs include photos of the women’s faces and bodies, and some go as far as publicly displaying copies of their passports. The hiring of domestic workers is often determined by racial preferences.
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has asked Facebook to respond to allegations that it provides a platform for domestic workers' recruitment agencies linked with modern slavery. The company did not respond.