By Hani Hazaimeh, Jordan Times
AMMAN – Although thousands of domestic helpers have been exempted from paying millions of dinars worth of accumulated work and residency permit fees under several government initiatives to streamline the sector, obstacles are still preventing hundreds from returning to their countries.
Since the beginning of the year, the government has taken two decisions to exempt domestic helpers from residency and work permit fees, especially those who ran away from their employers for different reasons ranging from sexual and physical abuse to unpaid salaries or even in some cases for not adapting to the work environment.
According to Khaled Hseinat, president of the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association (DHRAA), 5,941 Indonesian, 4,011 Filipina and 2,314 Sri Lankan domestic helpers have been exempted from overstay and expired work permit fines, estimated at millions of dinars.
“These numbers do not include the number of domestic helpers who were included in the recent general pardon,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.
But according to Linda Kallash, head of the Tamkeen Centre for Legal Assistance, some 300 domestic helpers who benefited from the exemptions are still stuck in the Kingdom due to procedural bureaucracy at police stations.
“Most of the cases referred to the centre escaped from their workplace and their employers reported them to the authorities. Legally they cannot leave the country unless their employers drop charges, but this process is simple in theory, but in practice it takes weeks and sometimes months,” she told The Jordan Times yesterday.