Business

Employees tip on pain in the Gulf

...as NGO points to legal gaps, State laxity in increasing labour officers in those countries as shortcomings

Kenyans are still suffering in the hands of rogue employers in the Gulf region despite attempts to tame illegal transportation of domestic workers.

According to Trace Kenya, a counter human trafficking non-governmental organisation, it has rescued over 691 persons from the Gulf countries having undergone different forms of mistreatment since 2013.

Locally, available data shows that over 40,000 Kenyans are working at the gulf countries.

The organisation’s executive director Paul Odhoch says this year at least 24 Kenyans were rescued from forced labour, most of whom claimed sexual exploitation.

Global statistics indicate that over 26 million people are trafficked every year in a deadly organised crime.

Fatma Abdnalla from Kisauni, who is among those rescued from rogue employers in Saudi Arabia, says she is partially blind due to an eye impairment resulting from an attack from her former employer.

“I was forced to work for day and night without food. One day I resisted and the boss poured very dangerous liquid on my face. I lost sight for sometime and when I gained strength I ran away seeking help. I was rescued and that’s how I found myself back home,” said Abdhalla.

Trace wants more labour officers be stationed at Embassies in the Middle East as promised by the government to help those suffering in the hands of cruel employers.

“The majority of those men and women rescued have complained of sexual harassment with very minor cases of physical torture. Since January we have been able to rescue 24 Kenyans from Middle East,” said Odhoch.

The government has signed a bilateral labour agreement with Qatar and Saudi Arabia but organisations say there still exists legal loopholes to be addressed.

The MoU regulates recruitment of Kenyan domestic workers as part of efforts to implement transparent procedures in all phases of contractual work. The memorandum also includes a cooperation agreement on domestic workers.

The MoU stipulates that an employer has to present an offer that contains detailed information about the rights and duties of the employer and employee, and terms and conditions.

The government ensures that the employee approves of the contractual terms, and signs the contract which contains a work permit application, which will be submitted by the employer to the ministry.

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