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In Service of Those Who Serve Us? The Impact of Immigration Policy on Discrimination against Foreign Female Domestic Workers in Kuwait

According to the World Bank, approximately 74 million -nearly half- of all migrants departing from the developing world settle and reside in other developing countries. A prominent and significant example of such a South-South migration includes South-Asian workers migrating to the oil-rich states of the Persian Gulf, such as Kuwait. While migration to the Gulf has become increasingly differentiated, the vast majority of South Asian migrants remain in low-skilled positions, with foreign female domestic workers constituting one-third of total expatriate workforce.

In 2009, embassies of labour-sending countries in Kuwait received more than 10,000 complaints of ‘modern day slavery’ from domestic workers employed in the country. The issue of maltreatment of foreign, female, domestic workers is also receiving considerable media exposure and is a serious concern of NGOs and human rights organizations worldwide.

This paper analyses the extent to which migration policy in Kuwait affects the working and living conditions of low-skilled, foreign female domestic workers, and to discuss whether a shift in migration policy would significantly improve their quality of life.

Author:Amina Samy


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