Colombo, Feb 11 IANS | 6 months ago

The Sri Lankan government is considering ban on sending its nationals as housemaids abroad, particularly to Middle Eastern countries.


Sri Lankan Ambassador to Kuwait C.A.H.M. Wijeratne said the social impact of sending women as migrant workers was significant and as such the government was considering the ban, Xinhua reported citing local media.

Of the total of 130,000 Sri Lankans residing in Kuwait, some 80,000 are domestic help.

"We are paying the price - the social impact is huge, and families are breaking up," he said in remarks to the media.

"For some women, it's a way to get away from a drunk husband, but the government is seriously contemplating (placing a ban)," said Wijeratne.

The consideration is also affected by poor working conditions, low salaries and abuse faced abroad by housemaids.

A Sri Lankan maid was reported to have set her employers' house on fire this week in retaliation for mistreatment by them.

However, Sri Lanka's economy depends on remittance earnings that amounted to about $6 billion last year.

Last month, the Sri Lankan government signed a landmark agreement with Saudi Arabia to protect 12 categories of migrant workers such as housemaids, drivers, cleaners and waiters employed by Saudis.

According to the new agreement, sponsors cannot hold the employees' passports and the domestic workers are not required to surrender their passports to the employer.

The employers are also required to remit the workers' salaries to their bank accounts instead of the usual practice of paying the salaries in cash.

Saudi Arabia signed similar agreements that have a protection mechanism for migrant workers from India and the Philippines earlier this month.

This is the first migrant worker agreement between the two countries despite Sri Lankans seeking employment in the oil rich nation for over 25 years.

It is estimated that 1.2 million Sri Lankan migrant workers are employed in the Middle East, mostly as housemaids.

(Posted on 11-02-2014)