The Ugandan government has taken the drastic step of banning its citizens from working as domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia because many are abused by their employers.
The minister of gender, labour and social development Wilson Muruli Mukasa has said that the government continued “to receive information of our people being subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of the employers in Saudi Arabia“.
“The ban will remain in force until the conditions are deemed fitting,” he said in a letter written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Independent in Uganda said that Mukasa had sent the letter days after an audio recording of Ugandan women in a Saudi Arabian prison shared horrific tales of abuse.
“This recording resulted in a lot of public outcry, and many think it could have been the peak for government’s final decision on the matter,” said the Independent.
Uganda made this decision just 6 months after it signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia, allowing domestic workers to seek work in the country. 500 household maids had went to Saudi Arabia to work since signing the deal. High unemployment rates among Ugandan youth led the government to make the decision.
“Our expectations were that with the signing of the agreement, trafficking in persons to Saudi Arabia would stop,” Mukasa said.
Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines have all banned their nationals from working as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia over similar concerns. These countries provide a large number of domestic workers to other countries.
The US ally does not have the cleanest human-rights track-record. Among several other incidents, a Saudi Arabian woman might go to jail, not for abusing her maid, but for filming her husband as he sexually abused their maid. A maid who complained of abuse had her hand sliced off by her employer. According to the UK Independent, a Saudi employer also poured boiling water on her back.
Saudi Arabia has also struck schools and UN buildings in Yemen.
Sources: Al Jazeera
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