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NGO finds female migrants to Gulf continue to face labour abuse despite recruitment reforms

Lived Experiences of Migrant Women: Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, provides a close analysis of gender-based violence against female migrant workers. The report details the stories of 24 women and their experiences of abuse and violence at the hands of their employers, both private individuals and companies.

The report highlights that sending countries now send workers directly to cleaning companies who supply live-out labour, rather than live-in workers. This model of labour supply may allow women increased mobility and ensure a higher level of monitoring to detect abuse, yet Migrant Rights found that often these women face similar issues to domestic workers. Women may spend most of their days commuting to work and when they return are not allowed to leave their labour accommodation. Recruitment agents may also use cleaning companies to circumvent bans on recruiting domestic workers; women recruited to work in hospitals or schools sometimes ended up working in private homes.

Although recent reforms have been enacted to improve the recruitment industry, women continue to be subject to exploitation. Common abuses include non-payment of wages, overwork, physical and sexual violence, and restricted communication and mobility. Although workers do have access to forms of grievance mechanism and support from local government and community groups, the lack of law enforcement and commitment from sending countries limits the impact of mechanisms to protect women abroad.

The report issues recommendations to both sending and destination countries, focusing on the need for further legal reforms, increased awareness-raising, improved complaints mechanisms, pre-departure trainings and education, and greater regulation of recruiters.