Study Shows Domestic Workers Endure Abuse, Cruelty Worldwide

Domestic workers worldwide face starvation, forced confinement, and regular physical and sexual abuse, concludes a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Thursday. According to the report, “Swept Under the Rug: Abuses Against Domestic Workers Around the World,” domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women and children, are often vulnerable to persecution and cruelty because many countries lack minimum labor standards for domestic workers.

“Millions of women and girls turn to domestic work as one of the few economic opportunities available to them,” said Nisha Varia, a senior researcher for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, “Abuses often take place in private homes and are totally hidden from the public eye.”

The report stressed the need for governments to regulate working conditions for domestic workers and to institute laws that hold employers accountable for meeting minimum human rights standards. While it is difficult to estimate the prevalence of abuse to domestic workers, the HRW reported that the embassies of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines in Saudi Arabia receive receive thousands of complaints about domestic abuse every year.

The report comprises five years of research on domestic work in El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Togo, United Arab Emirates and the US.


Human Rights Watch press release 7/27/06; Reuters 7/27/06

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