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More Tamils seek work in Jordan

A large number of Tamils have sought work in Jordan as domestics over the past year, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.

The rights group also said that domestic work in Jordan had gotten “rougher” recently, with an increase in escapes, and some domestics turning to, or being forced into, sex work.

A 111-page report titled, “Domestic Plight: How Jordanian Laws, Officials, Employers, and Recruiters Fail Abused Migrant Domestic Workers,” Human Rights watch said Jordan needs to enforce the legal protections for migrant domestic workers it has put in place over the past three years.

On Sri Lanka, the New York based human rights group said that the Sri Lankan embassy in Jordan received 1,431 complaints from domestic workers in 2009 and 784 in the first six months of 2010.

Up to 30,000 of 70,000 Jordanian migrant domestic workers are Sri Lankan and they earned the least wage of between $100 and $150 per month.

Though Sri Lanka suspended deployment of domestic workers to Jordan in August 2009, it resumed cooperation by late 2010.

“Jordan’s legal reforms aren’t worth the paper they’re written on if they don’t make a difference in the lives of migrant domestic workers,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If Jordan wants to remain a regional leader in protecting domestic worker rights, it should muster the political will to enforce its own rules.”

Disempowerment of domestic workers starts in their home countries, where unscrupulous recruitment agents deceive them with false promises of easy work and high salaries. The problems continue in Jordan, where recruitment agents fail to provide copies of contracts and confiscate workers’ passports, and employers lock them inside the house to prohibit them from communicating with the outside world. Jordan has no shelter for domestic workers who escape, leaving them with nowhere to turn for help, Human Rights Watch said.

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