Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Domestic workers in Saudi Arabia suffer

You would think that in a land with the sharia as its law, life would be rather good - if you are of the persuasion that the sharia is God's own law. Why then is life so miserable for many in Saudi Arabia?

Domestic workers are often subjected to abuse that in some cases amounts to slavery, as well as sexual violence and lashings for spurious charges of theft or "witchcraft," Human Rights Watch published in a 133-page report. The organization urged Saudi Arabia to implement labor, immigration and criminal justice reforms to protect the workers, saying employers often face no punishment for such abuses. The report said that rather than receiving justice, domestic workers - most of them migrants from Asia - are more likely to face counter-accusations of witchcraft, theft or adultery.

"In the best cases, migrant women in Saudi Arabia enjoy good working conditions and kind employers, and in the worst they're treated like virtual slaves. Most fall somewhere in between," said Nisha Varia, senior researcher in the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.

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