‘Domestic workers are abused globally’
The intervention of Uganda’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hajj Yahya Ssemuddu to rescue stranded Ugandan girls from a shelter for homeless migrant workers in the Arab country have uncovered the plight of many Ugandans working as maids in the Arab world.
Ambassador Ssemuddu was forced to come to the rescue of the girls after they’d ran away from their employers because, he helped to organise the return of seven of the girls and pledged to help the remaining 17 girls.
Besides excessive work, some people have cited sexual harassment as another form of abuse that is suffered by a number of Ugandans working as domestic workers in Arab countries.
Ambassador Ssemuddu said in a statement that: “We discovered that many of the young girls were brought to Saudi Arabia on promises that could not be met by those who recruited them. Others were young and travelled on falsified documents.
On reaching Saudi Arabia, they couldn’t take on the work load and therefore refused to work. Most of the cases involved human trafficking,” said Ambassador Ssemuddu, following the meeting and in-depth interviews of the young women at the Shelter used by Saudi authorities for homeless and undocumented migrants.
The news has forced the minister of labour and social development Muruli Mukasa to to suspend the exportation of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia.
The move is likely to disorganise a number of girls and recruitment companies that were in the business of taking young girls to Arab countries to carry out modern day slavery.
But before they curse, the job seekers have received warning from experts in the industry that such jobs are associated with abuse.
Lillian Mugerwa, the Managing Director of International Employment Linkages says her company doesn’t send domestic workers because they know that globally, domestic workers are abused. She cited domestic workers in Uganda who are always complaining of harassment by their employers.
Ben Wamala, who recently returned to Uganda from the United Arab Emirates, and was facilitated by Jag Security to secure a job in UAE where he has spent over 3 years, however narrated that complaints of abuse he heard of while in the UAE were valid but were very few.
“It is true some people get abused or exploited but they are not many as it is depicted. Many Ugandans do simple jobs such as acting as security personnel which mostly involves stationing at entrances of major buildings to direct people.”
Meanwhile, ministry of labour officials say they have hired a company that will monitor the lives of Ugandans employed in Arab countries.
The ministry said that the company – Samaoc Holdings Limited: “Will ensure that only licensed companies will have access to the Saudi market, and that they would in turn deal with only licensed companies in Saudi Arabia through a password-protected secure access.”
The ministry of labour this week reassured Ugandans that the sad state of affairs would be addressed through bi-lateral talks. Last year the governments of Uganda and Saudi Arabia signed a Memoranda of Understanding to regularise the export of un-skilled and semi-skilled workers.