‘Saudi must give domestic workers equal rights’

Saudi Arabia should guarantee that domestic workers are given the same rights as other workers,Human Rights Watch said,as the kingdom's legislative body prepares to discuss a draft labour law.

Written by Agencies | Riyadh | Published: March 14, 2009 3:47 pm

Saudi Arabia should guarantee that domestic workers are given the same rights as other workers,Human Rights Watch said,as the kingdom’s legislative body prepares to discuss a draft labour law.

The New York-based watchdog said in a statement late yesterday that the Shura Council should ensure that the proposed legislation on domestic workers adheres to international standards.

“The Shura Council should ensure that the proposed reforms provide domestic workers the same rights accorded other workers under the labour law,” said Nisha Varia,deputy director of the women’s rights division of HRW.

“Working in private homes does not mean they should lose basic protections,and guaranteeing these rights by law can be especially important since they work out of the public view.”

The rights group estimates that there are around 1.5 million domestic workers from Indonesia,Sri Lanka,the Phillipines and other countries in the Arab world’s biggest economy.

It says workers are routinely underpaid,overworked,confined to the workplace or subjected to verbal,physical and sexual abuse.

The Shura Council,a consultative body,is planning to discuss the draft annex to the labour law next week and to make recommendations to the Saudi cabinet,which can enact the measure into law,HRW said.

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