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Tanzanian Domestic Workers 'Overworked, Underpaid, and Abused in the UAE'

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11 months 6 days

Tanzanian Domestic Workers 'Overworked, Underpaid, and Abused in the UAE'

Female domestic migrant workers from Tanzania are being physically and sexually abused by their employers in the UAE and the Oman, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has found. 

The 100-page report titled 'Working Like a Robot': Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates', details the appalling working and living conditions the East African domestic workers in the UAE and Oman face from their often racist employers. 

HRW conducted interviews with over 50 domestic workers of Tanzanian origin and found that the workers were "paid less than promised or not at all, were forced to eat spoiled or left-over food, shouted at and insulted daily, and physically and sexually abused. Some of these cases amount to forced labour or trafficking into forced labour," 

Human Rights Watch estimates that there are thousands of Tanzanian domestic workers across the Gulf. 

Rothna Begum, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who authored the report also documented the racial abuse the domestic workers faced with employers treating the Tanzanian domestic workers differently to their colleagues, referring to them as “dogs”.   

Begum told Middle East Eye,

"Some of the workers are being insulted and shouted at. It took on a racial element where employers would say that they are domestic workers because they are African...

Some workers described the level of racial discrimination [of their employers] because they wouldn't touch the same plate as them or eat the same food."

The report also found that the domestic workers endured long workers, with the 50 women interviewed for the report saying that they were made to work 15-21 hours a day and had their passports confiscated by their employers.

A fundamental impediment to rights concerning domestic workers in the Gulf is the Kafala system, a visa sponsorship system which means that domestic workers are unable to change jobs without their employer's consent and can be fined if they flee with “absconding”. 

One woman interviewed by HRW, who worked 17 hours a day, said that she escaped after being sexually assaulted by her employer. However, on attempting to file a complaint with the police she was informed that she faced charges for fleeing and was told to pay a fine of more than £400 or she would be sent to jail. 

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