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Lanka clamp on maids to Bahrain

Sri Lanka is to cut the number of housemaids it sends to Bahrain as part of efforts to stamp out cases of abuse, Honorary Consul-General P. B. Higgoda said.

The plan was part of a Middle-East wide initiative to replace housemaids with more skilled and semi-skilled workers. He said Sri Lanka had already set up a number of training camps aimed at improving the standards of female migrants, who would instead be encouraged to find jobs as nurses, beauticians and hairdressers.

At least 100,000 Sri Lankan women migrate to the Gulf to work as housemaids every year and are mainly employed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait.

Around 12,000 Sri Lankans also work in Bahrain, an estimated 3,000 of which are housemaids.

The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) said it had received more than 3,400 complaints from female workers during the first half of the year, mainly from the Gulf.

The cases included harassment, breach of contract and low or unpaid salaries as well as allegations of sexual abuse and physical violence. “When they come here there are so many barriers like experience, the language and that leads to problems,” Higgoda told the Gulf Daily News.

“The number of abuse cases we are hearing about in the Gulf is huge. People should be trained and should know the role of the profession that they have chosen.”

Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka said the Government was also considering tough action against recruitment agencies and may blacklist employers who abuse workers.

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