Saturday, November 17, 2007

Working to improve the lot of house servants in the UAE

Sharla, a US national married to a UAE national

I run the City of Hope, which is a shelter for battered women. We've dealt with about 400 victims in the past six months.

I think the United Arab Emirate is really trying to improve the situation for housemaids.

They are working with Sri Lanka and the Philippines to crack down on the problems.

Currently, the biggest issue is with Ethiopians. Traffickers are going to the most remote villages in Ethiopia and tricking these women into coming here. Their families pay the traffickers up to a thousand dollars to send them to work in Dubai.

They then put them in these villas. The women are completely illiterate, completely overwhelmed and they can't cope, so they run away. We sent more than a hundred victims back to Ethiopia in July and August alone.

I have had a positive experience with the authorities here, although at a lower level I go through a lot of harassment. If you're any type of victim, your first point of contact is with the lower level police, which is not fun.

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