JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia has indefinitely suspended the traffic of domestic helpers to Kuwait due to concern over widespread abuse and exploitation by their employers, the labour ministry said Thursday.
About 500 women with complaints ranging from physical beatings to the denial of pay are sheltering at the Indonesian embassy in the oil-rich Gulf emirate, awaiting assistance to be sent home, ministry spokesman Budhi Laksana told AFP.
At Indonesia’s request, Kuwait stopped accepting new maid arrivals on September 14, he said.
“We have temporarily stopped sending domestic helpers to Kuwait since September 14 to protect our helpers who had problems with their employers there,” Laksana said.
“The suspension will go on indefinitely until the problems are sorted out.”
There are around 60,000 Indonesian domestic helpers in Kuwait and they are typically paid as little as 60 Kuwaiti dinars (210 dollars) a month, he said.
“Most said they were owed salaries and when they asked their employers for the money, they were beaten up and some ended up in hospital,” Laksana said, referring to the 500 women at the embassy.
Indonesia imposed a similar ban on sending maids to Malaysia in June, after a 43-year-old Malaysian woman was charged with causing grievous bodily harm by beating and scalding her Indonesian employee her with boiling water.
“We haven’t lifted the ban in Malaysia because the problems our helpers faced there haven’t been solved,” Laksana said.