Kazungu Kambi, Labour Cabinet Secretary
Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi has temporarily suspended the recruitment of domestic workers to the Middle East and the Gulf region in an effort to put an end to the rampant cases of misery Kenyans seeking greener pastures in these regions are finding themselves in.
The CS has also revoked licenses of over 900 agencies recruiting workers and maintained that the recruitment agencies will be subjected to a fresh vetting before they can be issued with new licenses. Foreign agencies recruiting in Kenya will also be required to go through the country’s embassies vetting process.
“As a government we cannot just watch as our people die in the name of our people working in foreign countries,” Labor Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi said during a press conference in Nairobi early this week.
MODERN DAY SLAVERY
There have been rampant cases of mistreatment and modern day slavery aired by victims working in the Middle East and particularly in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who have eventually been lucky enough to return home alive and not in a coffin as has happened in the most unfortunate cases.
The most common violations often include sexual assault, reneging on terms of employment, harsh working conditions and physical abuse and murder in some cases.
Deceitful recruitment agencies owned by selfish individuals who have no regard for life and are ready to trade another human’s soul for money continue to promote this servitude as they often abandon these workers as soon as they part with the recruitment fees and move to the next willing job-seeker.
Some victims who possess tertiary level of education are often deceived with promises of lucrative jobs such as saleswomen, hotel attendants, drivers, waiters, and chefs only to find out once they reach their destination that they are shakalas (a ‘maid’ in Arabic)
Victims often narrate how on arrival to their ‘master’ households they are usually forced to surrender their travel documents along with their human rights and dignity to their employers.
TWO WOMEN KILLED IN SAUDI ARABIA
In the past week, two Kenyan women working as house helpers in Saudi Arabia died under mysterious circumstances with at least 30 other Kenyans reported to be allegedly detained in the Kingdom this month after their employment agencies abandoned them.
The Saudi Embassy in Nairobi continues to refute the allegations but through a statement on Monday said that they would investigate the circumstances leading to the deaths of the women.
“The Kingdom will investigate the cases to ascertain the circumstances leading to the deaths and alleged servitude of Kenyan migrant workers,” the statement read in part.
THROWN FROM THIRD FLOOR WINDOW
In 2010, the story of one Ms Fatma Athman, of Kisauni, Mombasa, shocked fellow Kenyans when she returned home with broken limbs and a chilling story of how her Saudi employer had thrown her out of a third floor window, breaking her legs and hands. Luckily for Fatma, she had landed in a swimming pool and not on the pavement and fortunately as a result survived.
Another Kenyan woman, Susan Wanjiku, 29 who had also been working as a maid, said she had to live on dog food because her employers neither fed her nor allowed her out of the house.
In 2011, a body of a Kenyan girl was discovered locked up in a freezer adding to statistics of unexplained murders of migrants in The Gulf.
In August this year a 28 year old woman,Mary Achieng, died in Saudi again under mysterious circumtances. The last communication that Mary is said to have made home was via a text message send to her boyfriend asking to be send money to travel back home as she feared for her life.
These are just a fraction of the staggerring cases of the misery Kenyans seeking for work in Middle East often find themselves in and pressure has been mounting on the government to step up efforts to control the situation. The move by the labour CS is a step in the right direction.