Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates

14th November 2017

Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates

Thousands of Tanzanian women toil as domestic workers in the Middle East, cleaning, caring, and cooking for their employer’s families. Each year, hundreds more follow, often with promises of salaries ten times what they could earn at home. Some find decent working conditions and good salaries. Many others work excessively long hours for little pay, and are subject to physical and sexual abuse. Some end up trapped in situations of forced labour. One domestic worker said, “it is like a game of cards, you can win or lose.”

The majority of the estimated 2.4 million migrant domestic workers in the Gulf states come from Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka. As these countries have increased protections and minimum salaries for their workers, and in some cases banned recruitment to the Gulf entirely, recruiters are increasingly turning to East Africa where protections are weaker and workers deemed cheaper.

This report, based on 87 interviews conducted in November 2016 and February 2017, including 50 Tanzanian domestic workers, documents the abuse women face in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The report looks at how the Tanzanian, Omani, and UAE governments’ failure to protect Tanzanian migrant domestic workers leave them exposed to exploitation both at home and abroad.

Report by the Human Rights Watch