Kuwait is a small country situated at the top of the Gulf. She shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Its strategic location and massive oil reserves make her one of the world’s richest countries per capita. Kuwait has a population of about 4.2 million people; 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 2.9 million are expatriates.
Foreign domestic workers play an essential role in nearly every Kuwaiti household; Kuwait has the highest ratio of domestic workers to citizens in the Middle East. Many Kuwaiti employers of these domestic workers take advantage of weak legal protections and an isolated home environment that shields human rights abuses from outside scrutiny. HRW says that many domestic workers who leave employers do so without pay after being subjected to abuse. They are denied food or medical care, detained against their will and have few avenues to make complaints or obtain shelter.
Because of this abuse, many countries have placed an embargo on domestic workers going to Kuwait. On 12th February 2018, Philippines announced their ban; Indonesia, Malaysia and India had earlier banned or put stringent conditions on domestic workers. Sometime last year, Cameroun arranged a flight to repatriate their citizens who were trapped in shelters after running away due to abuse.
I am living in Cameroun and saw how the family of my friend whose sister was one of the victims suffered and I don’t want any Nigerian family to pass through that torture. I want to use this medium to call on all Nigerian parents, especially those from the south to never allow their daughters under any guise to go to Kuwait for work. I call on Nigerian ladies of southern extraction, graduates and non-graduates being promised dream domestic jobs or any kind of job in Kuwait by an agency to think and make serious enquiry before undertaking this mission.
For record purpose and your information, there are many African women from Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Kenya, and Ethiopia, duped into lives of servitude, after they were promised nursing and hotel jobs abroad by Kuwait recruitment agents. These agents come through any form like they are using the Nigeria Ambassador to Kuwait, Garba Ganja Muhammed with some other Nigerians resident in Kuwait to recruit Nigeria ladies, which will definitely turn out catastrophic and will end in pain and disaster.
For those southern Nigeria ladies being deceived for a dream job in Kuwait, this is what you should expect.
On your arrival to Kuwait, after they might have promised you a nursing job, you will be taken to the agent’s offices. Kuwaiti families and other Arab families would come to look at you ladies to buy you, which they call to select. When you are selected, they will take you to their house. The agents will make their profit selling you to a family like $3000. You may never hear from or see these agents again and you will move into a gated mansion where you will work.
You are expected to work for 22 hours a day [with] no day OFF. You can never leave the house. You are not allowed to use mobile phones. And indeed, in Kuwait, where 90 percent of the Kuwaitis reportedly employ house help, once someone is “purchased,” the perception is that they own the maid and can treat them however they wish. Make enquires about this information before venturing into this deadly mission. We are in the age where information about any country is available on the net and can be accessed through your mobile device. Just type Kuwait domestic workers in any search engine and see for yourself.
The government supports this mistreatment of house helps, because Kuwait government will never take the blame for any consequence since there are no laws on the books protecting domestic labour. The government and parliament are not interested in taking serious steps to defend the house helps.
Once you’re in Kuwait, as long as you’re a lady and a house help for that matter you are Isolated in private household and excluded from Kuwait’s labour rights legislation, you are extremely vulnerable to physical, psychological and s3xual abuse.
Once employed as domestic workers in Kuwait, women find it difficult to leave if they suffer abuse. Nigeria embassy will never help you. They will only cast blame on you that you’re not a good person, you will be abandoned to your faith, besides, you might be Igbo, Yoruba or other tribes from the south. I know Ambassador Garba Muhammed can never recruit northern ladies for this kind of jobs.
The ambassador wants to make money for his political ambition come 2019 in Nigeria. My sources said that he has stubbornly undertaken this mission against advice to desist from this trafficking business from diplomats conversant with Kuwait and domestic workers issue.
I urge Nigerian Agency for the prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to watch closely the present Nigeria ambassador to Kuwait Garba G. Mohammed because sooner people shall witness and understand the problems and diplomatic rifts and bad image Nigeria shall witness from his selfish business interest. Sources said that previous Nigeria Ambassadors in Kuwait totally rejected the recruitments of Nigeria ladies for house help in Kuwait after studying carefully the problems women face in Kuwait domestic jobs
Under Kuwait’s kafala sponsorship system, domestic workers are not allowed to leave or change jobs without their employers’ permission. With their residency status also tied to their employer, if they run away they become “illegal.” Even if you run away or escape to the government shelter, women find themselves in another type of prison. Under Kuwaiti law, employers are obliged to report any worker who has “absconded” from a private home.
Their residency permit is then cancelled and orders are issued to detain and deport them. While the facility is immaculate, with a large outdoor area and spotless corridors, those sheltering there are not allowed to go outside or use mobile phones. They can contact their families, but only on the shelter’s phone, and only at weekends. Women can be trapped here for months, if not years.
Many of those that have escaped this life of servitude have filed official complaints to their respective embassies. In fact, in 2009 alone, according to Human Rights Watch, Kuwait has received more than 10,000 complaints from domestic workers, including “nonpayment of wages; withholding of passports; excessively long working hours without rest; and physical, s3xual, and psychological abuse.”
Many countries’ have banned their ladies from working in Kuwait as house help. They are now moving to countries having little or no knowledge of what ladies go through in Kuwait and other Middle East countries
But the ban hasn’t stopped the flow of women being lured into the country after applying for what looks to be legitimate work through agents on the Internet.
Saidu Bangura, the cultural attaché at the Sierra Leone embassy in Kuwait, says, “It’s a total deception. Recruitment agents in Kuwait contact agents in Sierra Leone through the Internet and ask them to recruit workers. I want to appeal to these women not to believe anyone who wants them to come to Kuwait. It’s only going to bring punishment and distress.”
I urge Ambassador Garba Muhammad to be ready to face the consequences of this business he is venturing into with the name Nigeria. In his mind, his tenure is about to finish in Kuwait and he thinks to dump these ladies in Kuwait and by the time the problems surface he will not be in Kuwait.