Away from the worker abuse in Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zone’s that have made enough waves this year to force government action, there is the abuse of domestic workers i.e. maids. Considering our economy, resources and social make up, why some people in Jordan feel the need to even have maids is just beyond me. A recent report shows that this past year 10 have committed suicide. According the Ministry of Labor there are over 38,000, of which some 18,000 are Indonesians, 11,000 Filipinas, 8,000 Sri Lankans, 350 Egyptians and 350 from other nationalities. These are of course the one’s who are registered and the Ministry claims there are as many as 60,000 illegal domestic workers.
In addition to a nationwide campaign the latest government policy has been to force recruitment agencies must have the approval of the concerned embassy before applying for an entry visa. In the past few years we read about many of these agencies being shut down every now and then. In reality there is little the government can do from a public policy standpoint beyond managing restrictions through embassies and wasting a lot of time, energy and funds on investigating complaints; perhaps even fining households. The problem essentially lies within these households. Who is it exactly that can afford to employ a domestic worker?
It’s strange that hardly anyone in Amman seems aware of worker abuse in the QIZ’s or factories outside the city but everyone seems to know of a maid who was abused in some way or another. It’s also (not so) strange that despite all this the maid’s choose to stay.
I know my normal inclination would be to say: if they can afford it then there shouldn’t be any restrictions, but with some issues like this one that have become a political, social and economical problem, I can’t help but want to see these workers shipped home and for the people to do their own (dirty) work. Honestly, the concept of having people in a poor country bring in people from an even poorer country to do their laundry is backwards. Not to mention this new generation of upper class kids that speak Siri Lanki.
In October, Jennifer Perez, 20, a domestic helper from the Philippines, died from her injuries after she was thrown out of a balcony by her female employer. According to the employer, who is free on bail, Perez “fell from the balcony” after the two women fought over a mobile phone that belonged to the victim.