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Concern over endless abuse of foreign housemaids in Oman

Violations of housemaids’ rights remain a major problem in Oman, both for society and for the government.  The image of the country they present is just the opposite of what the government wants the world to see.

Society alone cannot be blamed; nor can the violations housemaids suffer be portrayed simply as one-off cases of abuse that take place in the absence of laws offering them protection.

The most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse are housemaids from African countries such as Tanzania, Ethiopia and Nigeria, and those whose embassies in Oman offer them no protection.

The Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR) has received numerous reports of abuse from housemaids in Oman, most of whom are too afraid of reprisals from their sponsors to give their real names.

Some maids tell the OCHR they have reported mistreatment or sexual harassment to police stations nearby, but to no avail, as the police have not initiated any official proceedings or undertaken any investigation into their reports.

What usually happens when a sponsor is “annoyed” by a housemaid complaining is that he sends her back to the agency that recruited her, and the agency immediately sends a replacement.

Housemaids’ passports are withheld for fear of their absconding; they are denied weekly time off; and they work long hours in degrading living conditions.  They have to be ready for service at whatever time they are given an order, and their duties may cover more than one household.

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If a housemaid asks to leave Oman, or even just to change her sponsor, she has to pay for her flight home herself, or else forego her wages until she is replaced.

The OCHR has seen video evidence of sexual harassment, in which a sponsor tried to force a housemaid to have sex with him.

However the clearest evidence of the abuse of housemaids can be found in the advertisements published on one of Oman’s best known online platforms, in which female workers are presented as commodities to be bought, sold or exchanged.  The same website encourages negative attitudes toward housemaids, and offers advice on how to control them.

The main complaints received by the OCHR are as follows:

  • Housemaids may be forced to work in more than one home owned by the same family, or by relatives of the family, without any extra pay or even prior agreement.
  • Many domestic workers are hired at an agreed fixed rate of pay and benefits, but then find themselves in practice being paid less than the agreed amount, and without any benefits at all.
  • Many housemaids are denied a single day or even a few hours off each week.
  • Their movements are restricted, and they are prevented from leaving the house unless accompanied by a member of the family, and only for a limited time.
  • Some housemaids are forced to sleep in the kitchen, as their sponsors fail to provide them with suitable accommodation within the house where they are working.
  • Several housemaids have testified that they suffered sexual harassment from at least one family member in the house where they were working.  Their sponsors would mostly not do anything to prevent this harassment, and in some cases the sponsor himself would be party to it.
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Despite increasing problems for migrant workers, there is as yet no dedicated body monitoring the conditions of domestic workers, and no hotline through which they can lodge complaints.  Several housemaids said police stations in the provinces and cities where they worked did not take their complaints seriously, and the situation usually backfired on them, as they ended up suffering reprisals from the families in whose homes they worked.

Similarly, there is no independent or even government-backed civil society activity to educate the public and try to change the way housemaids are typically treated, which quite simply amounts slavery.

Improving workers’ conditions and creating new laws to protect them, whatever their nationalities, is a matter of simple humanity and the responsibility of every individual.  It is not the responsibility of the government alone, but there does have to be an official legal mechanism to end all forms of this continuing abuse of housemaids.

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Help us at OCHR to uncover and publicise these violations, so that we can ensure that every housemaid is treated properly, with humanity and respect, in a way that offers her protection and guarantees her rights.

Source: ochroma.com

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open South America, available in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.

The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.

The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.

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Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.

“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.

“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.

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29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.

About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.

Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.

He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.

Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.

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“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”

International Organisation of Migration (

Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.

“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.

Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.

The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.

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FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK

Kelvin

The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.

Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.

Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.

Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.

“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.

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