News/Middle East: 5,000 women workers stranded in Middle East

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Subject: News/Middle East: 5,000 women workers stranded in Middle East
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Nov 03 1999 - 09:55:38 EST


>>Jakarta Post
>>November 02, 1999
>>
>>5,000 women workers stranded in Middle East
>>
>>JAKARTA (JP): More than 5,000 women workers have fled their employers and
>>are
>>being housed temporarily in Indonesian embassies across the Middle East,
>>according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
>>
>>One of the major impediments to assisting these workers is that many of them
>>entered their countries of employment illegally, an official at the Labor
>>Export Association (Apjati) said.
>>
>>Apjati deputy chairman Jamal Aziz said that based on reports he had
>>received,
>>Indonesian embassies in the Middle East were having financial difficulties
>>housing the workers and no action was being taken to repatriate the women.
>>
>>He said that according to reports, the workers were being accommodated in
>>dormitories in embassies in a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia,
>>Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
>>
>>Jamal said most of the workers were employed as domestic servants and fled
>>their jobs after suffering abuse at the hands of their employers.
>>
>>"Many left their jobs after being raped and tortured by their employers, and
>>many others fled because they were not being paid accordingly," he said,
>>adding that many workers facing similar difficulties were able to return to
>>Indonesia at their own expense.
>>
>>He said Apjati could not be blamed for the plight of many of the workers
>>because they entered their countries of employment illegally and no
>>Indonesian companies affiliated with the association were involved in their
>>employment.
>>
>>"After checking their entrance to the countries, we found the workers were
>>supplied by companies and individuals who have no labor export license.
>>It is
>>the new government's responsibility to repatriate the workers and take
>>action
>>against those who smuggled them overseas," Jamal said.
>>
>>According to data from Apjati, there were some 600,000 Indonesian workers
>>employed as domestic servants in Middle Eastern countries. The workers'
>>salaries vary from country to country.
>>
>>Jamal pointed to one local businessman who he alleged illegally supplied
>>Indonesian workers to Kuwait.
>>
>>"Some 122 workers sent by him have run away from their jobs and are now
>>being
>>housed at the Indonesia Embassy in Kuwait because they are in trouble with
>>their employers," he said.
>>
>>"Most of the workers have no work visas or contracts. Such a condition
>>allowed their employers to treat them arbitrarily," he said, adding that the
>>Indonesian government should lobby Kuwait to give greater protection to
>>Indonesians working in the country.
>>
>>The issue of Indonesian workers abroad has been a constant problem for the
>>government for several years.
>>
>>Despite the high profile of recorded cases of mistreatment and abuse,
>>working
>>abroad continues to be an attractive option for many, especially those from
>>small villages, as they are lured with the prospect of attaining high income
>>during a time of economic crisis at home. (rms)
>>
>>
>>
>
>


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