Abuse and Exploitation of Female Migrant Domestic Workers in the United Arab Emirates

by Human Rights Watch
Images by Abbas/Magnum Photos

Migrating for work can certainly provide an opportunity, but only if the worker’s human rights are respected. Some female domestic workers in the UAE have good and responsible employers, satisfactory working conditions, receive their wages in full and on time, and are able to remit money home to their families.

But in many cases, employers in the UAE and recruiting agents abuse the women who become migrant domestic workers. Workers whom Human Rights Watch interviewed for this report described a range of abuses which they had experienced. Most said their employers confiscated their passports. Some accused their employers of having physically abused them and confined them to the homes. Many said their employers had failed to pay the full wages due to them, had forced them to work excessively long hours without breaks or days off, or had denied them adequate food, living conditions, or medical treatment. Some workers were employed in circumstances that amounted to forced labor or trafficking.