UPDATE to my May 2009 Post.
Some baby steps of progress for women who go to the Middle East - more specifically Lebanon - where courts are trying to help these abused foreign maids recoup wages and improve their living conditions. Unfortunately, most muslim employers pay little heed to the court rulings.
First is my original post on the subject - new article below this:
While browsing the web, yesterday, I viewed the Arab Times online site and came across several news articles about the rape and abuse of maids in Kuwait. I was surprised at the cluster of cases so I searched the web for more information and was nearly knocked off my chair when I realized the enormous extent of the huge numbers of foreign maids suffering abuse at the hands of their Middle East "sponsors". To use the term "maid" is a misnomer - these women (and boys) are nothing more than modern day SLAVES. Slaves to be abused, raped, tortured, maimed, and killed.
Many of these maids come into the Middle East (particularly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon) from Indonesia, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia - smaller numbers come from India and Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of these imported domestics estimated at 200,000 in 2004. These maids are seen as inferiors to their Middle Eastern masters and many countries do not even recognize them as being covered by labor laws - including minimum wage:
"The plight of domestic workers in Lebanon rose to the spotlight during the summer of 2006, when Israel launched a thirty-four-day military offensive on Lebanon. In Arabic, the term "Abed" is used to denote a "black" person or "slave" and the word is sometimes heard in reference to Africans or Sri Lankans. Non-Arab Afro-Asian migrants in Lebanon are physically looked upon as inferior due to their positions as servants. These workers remain excluded under Article 6 of Lebanese labour laws and are often victims of abuse by both employers and agencies." LINK
The vast majority of these women are seeking an opportunity to earn money and send remittances back to their families -
".......Phillipines, where the economy relies heavily on remittances from nearly eight million Filipinos working overseas. Of that eight million, about 73,000 work in Kuwait. Some 60,000 are women employed mainly as maids and earning less than $200 a month on average, labor groups say.
Some of these woman do quickly realize the danger and manage to escape in a few days. But, many of the remaining "servants" are left in a living nightmare.
Here are some of the sickening stories of abuse, etc that I came across with a quick net search:
The shame of modern day slavery is not exclusive to the muslim countries as it appears that muslims are bringing their maid slavery behaviors into "multicultural" Western countries - a few examples:
Nanda, from Sri Lanka is one of the few to break the silence.