Ethiopia — The case of the Ethiopian maid who is facing manslaughter charges in Kuwait for allegedly killing the daughter of her sponsor by slitting her throat while the victim was asleep has raised wider concern over the treatment of African workers in Kuwait.
According to reports, the gruesome incident happened this week in Andalus. The deceased, 24-year-old Fatima Al-Otaibi, was killed while she slept in her family’s residence.
The Ethiopian maid, whose name and age has not yet been disclosed, reportedly tried to commit suicide by slitting her own throat after the incident. She has since been transported to the hospital for treatment.
It was reported that the maid said she had been insulted the night before. Several Kuwaiti lawmakers are also alleged to have vented anger on Ethiopian workers, demanding a total ban on their recruitment.
On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kuwait Mohammad Gudeta said the embassy has been provided very little information about the case. He revealed that representatives of the embassy have been sent to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior to gather more information. Delegates were also sent to the hospital where the maid is being treated.
The Ethiopian embassy in Kuwait has expressed regret over the incident and sent condolences to the family of the deceased.
There have been several cases of domestic workers being abused and mistreated by their employers in Kuwait.
Once in Kuwait, women often completely disappear from view. Isolated in private households and excluded from Kuwait’s labour rights legislation, they are extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Once employed as domestic workers in Kuwait, women find it difficult to leave if they suffer abuse. 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.”
Kuwait is the largest employer of domestic workers in the Middle East. The country hosts about 666,000 domestic workers – many of whom are from Africa and Asia. Maids have repeatedly made headlines in the country and around the region for perpetrating violence against their employers and their relatives.
According to experts, these crimes could be triggered by depression and other psychological disorders caused by inhumane working conditions. Some foreign domestic workers in Kuwait are reported suffer abuses including long working hours without rest, non-payment of wages as well as physical and sexual abuse.
There are over 74,000 Ethiopians in Kuwait and many of them are domestic workers. According to Kuwait’s Kafala sponsorship system, these workers, who sometimes suffer terrible abuse, are not allowed to leave or change jobs without the consent of their employers. They are considered ‘illegal’ if they flee from their employers.
Story adapted from http://www.zegabi.com/