Indians top the list with 327,000 helpers, Indonesians last with 2,780

KUWAIT: The total number of domestic helpers officially registered in Kuwait increased by 39,285 (24.2 percent) in the period of June 2018 to June 2019, as per recent government statistics. Statistics also showed that Indians topped the list with 327,000 domestic helpers, 75 percent of whom are male, followed by 137,000 helpers from the Philippines, 99 percent of whom are female. Helpers from Bangladesh stand third with a total of 89,000 workers, 98 percent of whom are male.

Sri Lankan helpers number fourth with a total of 72,000 workers (74 percent female) and Ethiopia fifth with 18,000 helpers, followed by Nepal with 15,000 helpers, while the remaining 14,000 domestic workers are of various nationalities. In addition, statistics showed that female helpers from Ivory Coast are the least with 3,500 workers, followed by 2,800 from Madagascar and 2,783 from Indonesia.

Notably, a report issued by AlShall Economic Consultants on July 27, 2019 said one-third of the total expatriate workers in Kuwait are domestic helpers, adding that the total number of domestic helpers was 707,000 by the end of 2018 and 678,000 by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, a BBC report said Kuwaiti authorities have officially summoned the owners of several social media accounts used to sell domestic workers as “slaves”. A BBC News Arabic investigation found online slave markets on apps provided and made available by Google and Apple, including Facebook-owned Instagram. Women were offered for sale as workers via hashtags such as “maids for transfer” or “maids for sale”.

Authorities say those involved have been ordered to take down their ads. They have also been compelled to sign a legal commitment, promising no longer to participate in this activity. Instagram said it had also taken action since it was contacted by the BBC. It said it had removed further content across Facebook and Instagram, and would prevent the creation of new accounts designed to be used for the online slave market.

Many of the most widely used accounts for buying and selling domestic workers appear to have stopped their activity. Mubarak Al-Azmi, head of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower, said it was investigating the woman featured in the BBC report who sold a 16-year-old girl from Guinea via an app. A police officer who also featured in the report is under investigation by the authorities. Azmi said arrests and compensation for the victims were possible outcomes of the action.
Google and Apple said they were working with app developers to prevent illegal activity on their platforms. On Thursday, BBC News Arabic published its undercover investigation which found domestic workers were being illegally bought and sold online in a booming black market.

By A Saleh