Restoring Our Humanity

A disturbing report by local NGO Tamkeen, which seeks to improve social protection for marginalized groups and victims of human rights violations, revealed that many migrant domestic workers in Jordan are having their rights violated.

Despite some important legislative reforms in recent years, the study still said there were “great, comprehensive, and systematic violations” mainly due to the recruitment regulation that “entrenches violations against domestic workers.”

It further said that migrant domestic workers—50,000 regular workers and around 30,000 irregulars who mainly come from countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines—were one of the largest groups of workers excluded from labor laws and social protection in the Kingdom.

The report also said many of these are vulnerable women who have suffered from physical and verbal abuse. Only last month, a truly troubling video appeared online which reportedly showed the owner of a recruitment agency violently beating a female domestic worker.

Every day we hear from close relatives and friends stories of neighbors who mistreat their housekeepers, and little to no action at all is taken to rectify the situation. In some cases the female worker ends up fleeing the house she works in, seeking refuge with some NGOs or her embassy, awaiting deportation.

Years of abuse and low wages have prompted some countries, including Indonesia, to prohibit their workers from working in Jordan and other countries in the region.

If we want to have a better reputation when it comes to human rights then more serious measures need to be taken to rectify this situation. Thankfully, the authorities have reportedly shut down the office of the man who beat the domestic worker. But this only happened after the video went viral—what about the dozens of others who get abused but whose stories remain hidden and untold?

It is time that policy makers take the outcome of reports like the Tamkeen one seriously. Bullies deserve harsher punishments.