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 Post subject: Hardships faced by Lankan housemaids
 Post Posted: Thu May 25, 2006 2:01 am 
Hardships faced by Lankan housemaids

CDN / 24MAY2006

MIGRANT LABOUR: According to a news report published in the Daily News recently, the Sri Lankan Government received 2,000 reports on foreign employers abusing maids in 2003.

According to the same report, 123 Sri Lankan women died in 2003 while working abroad. The Government had classified 45 of the cases as 'unnatural deaths'. In other words those deaths are murders.

This is an alarming rate of violence against Sri Lankan women in some countries. It is true that those countries help Sri Lanka by providing employment opportunities but there should be some mechanism to ensure the safety of Sri Lankan housemaids employed abroad.

It is heartening to hear that the Lankan Government is going to take action to protect Sri Lankan women working abroad.

The news report says 64.5 per cent of the 1.3 million Sri Lankans employed abroad are women. They counted for only 33 per cent of Sri Lankans working abroad in 1986. This means that the majority of Sri Lankans employed abroad are women.

In the past, Sri Lankan newspapers reported how officials working in Sri Lankan embassies harassed our housemaids.

According to those news reports, Sri Lankan housemaids face numerous hardships including rape, murder and abuse in the homes of their employers. After coming to the embassies seeking assistance, they are harassed by officials instead of helping them and ensuring their safety.

This is a very pathetic situation, which should be rectified as soon as possible. This is totally against our culture, renowned worldwide for its hospitality.

There are other things related to the same issue which should be taken care of such as ensuring the safety of housemaids from bogus foreign employment agencies, ensuring the safety of housemaids who travel from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to their home towns, ensuring the safety and well-being of their families living in Sri Lanka and ensuring the voting right of Sri Lankan housemaids working abroad.

When speaking about the serious problems faced by Sri Lankan housemaids in different times, it is sad to see that sometimes their life becomes miserable. First they often fall into the traps of bogus foreign employment agencies and lose their hard-earned money by selling all their valuables.

Then they get raped or abused in the airport (according to one news report Sri Lankan housemaids had been raped inside the BIA by a certain group of employees continually for a long period of time).

Then after landing in a strange foreign land they face rape, torture, murder or denial of payments while working in homes. It was reported that some housemaids committed suicide by jumping from the top floor of their employers' houses just to escape rape and abuse.

They sometimes escape and run into the Sri Lankan embassy of the relevant country in order to save their lives.

But unfortunately it was reported that some of them face more difficulties in Sri Lankan embassies.

After undergoing abuse and harassment and sometimes after spending years in 'refugee camps' they return to Sri Lanka hoping to see the faces of their family members.

On their way to homes sometimes they fall into the hands of robbers and rapists and end up losing everything they brought from abroad for their families.

In the end they return home to see their daughters pregnant with the child of their own father, a male relative or another person. Sometimes the husband is found to be living with another woman. This is the true-life story of some Sri Lankan housemaids.

Therefore we have to do everything possible to ensure their well-being as well as the welfare of their families.

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