By Gazala Anver
Dilan Perera, Minister for Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare said that the age limit for domestic workers going to the Middle East will be raised to thirty within the next three years.
“Currently we have already raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 years. We will raise it again within the next three years to 30,” he said.
When asked if this move was due to horrific incidents of domestic workers being abused by their employers, he said that it had nothing to do with that issue. “It’s just a matter of principle,” he said. “We are currently having discussions with all stakeholders in the industry,” he said.
In the last four months domestic workers going to the Middle East have brought in 1,688 million USD worth of remittances to Sri Lanka, the Foreign Employment Bureau stated. In addition, remittances have seen an increase of 26%. The last six months have also seen 126,787 domestics workers going to the Middle East.
Despite bringing in considerable remittances to Sri Lanka, in the past year alone several cases of abuse have been brought to attention. The dead body of domestic worker Pavani Devi Sinnaiyah, aged 36, was brought back home recently from her work place in Al-Ghorayath, Jouf province, Saudi Arabia. Her autopsy reports confirm death due to homicide.
After 14 years of unpaid labour and alleged imprisonment Indrani Mallika Hettiarachchi, 45, was rescued recently from Saudi Arabia. Her employer however said that he cannot afford to pay her pending wages of SLR. 60,000.
Domestic workers have also returned with nails inserted into their bodies, allegedly by employers in Saudi Arabia.