Jordan: Female domestic workers

Counterproductive decisions


According to the Ministry of Labour (MoL), there are some 58,262 guest domestic workers in the Kingdom who come from Africa, Asia and the Far East. They left their children, families and loved ones behind in order to earn some money and send it back home to sustain their families until they return.

This vulnerable group of people often work under the mercy of not only their employers but also the dictates and manipulations of offices that recruit them and assign them to different families in need of their services for hefty fees. Yet, these migrant workers are sometimes subjected to all sorts of abuses.

For the most part, the MoL is in charge of their affairs and tries to cooperate for this purpose with the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association. The MoL says that it receives hundreds of complaints every year from workers or their employers and tries its best to provide workers with better working conditions and fair wages and ensure humane treatment.

On the other hand, the suffering of this disadvantaged group of migrant workers remains widespread. Existing mechanisms for assuring them more protection do not seem to work most of the time. The MoL, however, appears to be interested mostly in raising the residency and permit fees of domestic workers. The government seems to think that raising these annual charges is a good source of revenue for it.

Working mothers on the other hand view these ever-increasing fees as counterproductive. Without domestic helpers, many working mothers cannot enter the labour market. Female domestic workers do not compete with local labour force because local women do not like to do house work for others for fear that they may be called “servants”.

It is one thing for authorities to raise fees for foreign male workers because they would indeed compete with local nationals, but when it comes to female domestic workers, this issue does not arise. Authorities do not seem to comprehend the need to accord female domestic workers preferential treatment. Until they do, many housewives would have to keep on paying more and more residency and permit charges for their female domestic workers at a time when the government says that the integration of women in the labour force is a high national priority.


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