Kenyan Diaspora Mary Wanjiru tells of struggles of working in Saudi Arabia

Kenyan Diaspora Mary Wanjiru tells of struggles of working in Saudi Arabia
Kenyan Diaspora Mary Wanjiru tells of struggles of working in Saudi Arabia: Photo/Courtesy

Kenyan domestic workers in the Gulf states have protested against mistreatment and mismanagement in the hands of their employers for years.

There have been many cases of workers returning to Kenya in body bags after ‘mysterious’ deaths after working in those countries.

Mary Wanjiru, a former worker in the gulf, said that usually, the smallest disagreement between an employer and a worker can lead to disastrous consequences.

Wanjiru was speaking during a webinar engagement by the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) on Thursday to discuss the enhancement of access to justice for women migrant workers in the Gulf.

Wanjiru said she has worked as a domestic worker in the region for over a decade across Saudi Arabia, Qatar and last in Dubai in 2018.

“The first time I got into trouble with my employer was over a small matter, I had not cleaned a surface well. The employers over there do not allow any room for mistakes,” she said.

Things began to get difficult under the employer and when she reported this to the agency in charge of her employment, no action was taken.

She decided to run away.

“When my agency back home learned about my escape, they blacklisted me from traveling back into Saudi Arabia so would never get a job there again,” she said.

Wanjiru stayed in Saudi and continued working illegally with no papers as the agency had taken them.

Judy Njoki had her passport and phone confiscated by her employer the moment she got to Saudi Arabia.

She said she was so distressed by not being in communication with her family back home that she fell sick.

“My boss took me back to the agency instead of the hospital saying that I did not want to work. He still had my passport with him. After a while, the agency sold me to a new employer who did the same thing to her,” she said.

Some escaped domestic workers end up stranded and stateless in those countries.

Clare Brown from Victims Advocates International said that a number of these women often end up camping outside embassies and consulates seeking help and medical assistance as they cannot even get treatment without their papers.

“We have over 250,000 domestic workers in Lebanon at the moment but in case they need are in need of assistance, we don’t have enough people on the ground to help them,” she said.

Stella Ndirangu from Victims Advocates International said that everyone needs to keep pushing to ensure that domestic workers are safe in these countries.

“Robust policies that do not already exist should be developed in order to protect these women at the hands of unscrupulous agents and employers,” she said.

“It is difficult to regulate what is happening because it happens in foreign countries but we need to keep pushing and always be on the look out so we can protect them and their rights,” said Clare Brown.

Source-https://www.the-star.co.ke/

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Kenyan Diaspora Mary Wanjiru tells of struggles of working in Saudi Arabia

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