Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sri Lanka takes steps to protect maids working overseas - 7days

The Sri Lankan government last night announced urgent plans to crackdown on the abuse of tens of thousands of Sri Lankan maids working overseas, mostly in the Middle East, after reports of torture, harassment and death. "We are not exporting goods .... we are dealing with humans," Athauda Seneviratne, minister for labour relations and foreign employment, said.

He said 123 Sri Lankan women had died abroad in 2003 and 45 of their deaths were “unnatuural.” With Sri Lanka's economy battered by two decades of fierce, ethnic-driven separatist war some of the island country's women have left in search of work. The average salary of a low-level government clerk in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, is $80-100 a month. In the Middle East, the standard for a maid is $100 a month, plus room and board. Cyprus offers the most lucrative salary, $300, plus expenses.
The government says 64.5 per cent of the 1.3 million Sri Lankans employed abroad are women, and almost all work as maids in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and Cyprus.

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