Kuwait - A domestic worker falls off the 7th floor while her employer films the scene and does not intervene to help her

Despite the introduction of a new law on 24 June 2015, the right to form or join a union is still denied, workers keep being employed under the kafala system of visa sponsorship and abuses continue to occur in the Gulf country. Despite the recently approved law banning passport confiscation, this practice continues in practice. Moreover, the kafala system continues to be intact and workers still cannot change jobs without the consent of their employer. Under this system, domestic workers who leave their jobs before the end of their contract without their sponsor’s consent are considered to have “absconded,” a crime under Kuwaiti law. They can be arbitrarily detained, fined or sentenced to imprisonment.

In this respect, the situation of exploitation and denial of the most basic human and working rights of Kuwaiti domestic workers is more relevant than ever. On 31 March 2017, newspapers worldwide reported the case of an Ethiopian domestic worker who fell from the 7th floor and her employer filmed the whole scene without intervening to help. The Kuwaiti employer filmed the domestic worker who landed on a metal awning and survived, then posted the incident on social media and declared to police that the lady was attempting suicide. However, the domestic worker stated that she was trying to save herself from the employer who was attempting to kill her and that she fell out of the window while trying to escape. This is only one of numerous cases registered in the recent past. Another example occurred on 6 March 2017 when a couple was arrested for torturing their domestic worker, imprisoning her in their home and depriving her of food until she managed to escape and to seek help. This situation is so common that the Government has set up shelters for them while some seek help from their embassies.

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