Recent labor reforms have not changed the harrowing reality of domestic work in Qatar, a new report from Amnesty International has revealed.
The report, titled “Why do you want to rest?”, draws on interviews with 105 women who had been employed as live-in domestic workers in Qatar.
The women’s testimony confirms that widespread labor rights and human rights abuses remain routine in the country, despite recent government reforms.
The Domestic Workers Law, introduced in 2017, stipulated maximum working hours and made daily breaks, a weekly day off, and paid holidays mandatory.
But three years later, little has changed.
Of the 105 women interviewed as part of Amnesty International’s investigation, 90 reported regularly working more than 14 hours per day; 89 had no weekly day off; and 87 saw their passport confiscated.
Shockingly, half of the women interviewed reported working more than 18 hours per day.
In addition to these excessive working hours, reports of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, in addition to poor living conditions and lack of food, were widespread among the interviewees.
Amnesty International reports:
“The introduction of the 2017 Domestic Workers Law was a step forward for labour rights protection in Qatar. Sadly, the accounts of the women we spoke to make it clear that these reforms have not been properly implemented or enforced,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International.
“Domestic workers told us they were working an average of 16 hours a day, every day of the week, far more than the law allows. Almost all had their passport confiscated by their employers, and others described not getting their salaries and being subjected to vicious insults and assaults. The overall picture is of a system which continues to allow employers to treat domestic workers not as human beings but as possessions.”
An estimated 173,000 migrant domestic workers are employed in Qatar, where the long-standing kafala sponsorship system, described by many as a form of modern slavery, has facilitated a wide range of abuses.
Despite the government’s promises to change, scant inspection mechanisms and widespread impunity for abusers have meant that its reforms have made little impact.
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