Feminist Discussion about Indonesian Migrant Domestic Worker in Saudi Arabia: “Vulnerability of Human Rights Violation and States Responsibility on Migrant Domestic Worker’s Protection”

On Thursday, June 5th, 2014, INSTITUT PEREMPUAN (Women’s Institute-INDONESIA) held Feminist Discussion on Indonesian migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and the human rights condition in Saudi Arabia. This discussion is a monthly program. The purpose of the discussion is to open mind and building staff capacity towards women’s issue.

The discussion explored on Saudi Arabia law system, legal framework for migrant domestic worker, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, and working situation for migrant domestic worker. Legal system in Saudi Arabia is very different with Indonesia. Besides using Sharia law, Saudi Arabia does not yet have a legal codification like criminal law which is influential to judicial process and verdict granting.

The most interesting point is about sponsorship system which called Kafala system which is contradicted with human rights. The male guardianship system restrict women’s mobility and women’s participation in many aspects of life. It gives all of women’s rights to her male guardian. Likewise with Kafala system that also same as guardian system which put all of migrant domestic worker to the Kafeel (usually male employer). Kafeel hold working permit and when a domestic worker wants to leave workplace or leave the country, it should be under kafeel permission. This system raise questions: does migrant domestic worker have a good knowledge about the system and aspects of life in destination country? Saudi Arabia put women in second position and give full power to men. In Saudi Arabia, sex segregation is so tight and there are separate space for women and men so that make limited mobility, space and women access for public service.

The condition of culture gap between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia is surely very difficult to understand. Indonesian government has responsibility to implement comprehensive protection mechanism for migrant domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, before migrant domestic worker depart, they should have followed trainings and full debriefing about destination country condition so they are ready with the difference in all areas and system that applies there. (pd/sa)

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