Maids flee lives of abuse in Kuwait

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Kuwait: With nowhere else to go, dozens of Nepalese maids who fled from their employers now sleep on the floor in the lobby of their embassy here, next to the visitors’ chairs.

In the Philippines Embassy, more than 200 women are packed in a sweltering room, where they sleep on their luggage and pass the time singing along to Filipino crooners on television. So many runaways are sheltering in the Indonesian Embassy that some have left a packed basement and taken over a prayer room.

The report noted that migrants enter Kuwait voluntarily, but “upon arrival some are subjected to conditions of forced labor by their sponsors and labor agents, including through such practices as nonpayment of wages, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as the withholding of passports.”

In 2009, embassies in Kuwait received more than 10,000 complaints from domestic workers about unpaid wages, long working hours and physical, sexual and psychological abuse, according to Priyanka Motaparthy of Human Rights Watch, who wrote an as yet unpublished report on the conditions of domestic workers in Kuwait.

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