03/01/2016, 13.14
UAE
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Murder of domestic worker highlights plight of foreign workers in the Emirates

35 year-old “lady” tortured a native woman of the Comoros for months with bamboo sticks and electric wires. At trial pleads innocence, but neighbors confirm: she beat her continuously. Out of 42 million people in the Gulf there are 18 million migrant workers. At least 2.4 million reduced in slavery.

Dubai (AsiaNews) - She tortured the maid to their "for months" brutally, kicking and punching, beating her with a bamboo stick and even using low voltage electric wires. Following months of beatings and injuries, the woman from the Comoros Islands died. As reported by the Arab newspaper Gulf News, the 35 year-old UAE citizen has been tried and charged with first-degree murder; in a statement to the judges the woman described herself as innocent and he dismissed any wrongdoing.

On admission to hospital, the body of the maid had wounds and burns that have also caused blood clots and a pulmonary edema. The death occurred last December and was the result, according to the prosecution in the first trial, which opened on 28 February, of systematic violence, repeated over time.

"I did not cause her death. How is that? I beat her a long time ago before the incident … how could that have happened! I am not guilty,” claimed the woman in court. She used bamboo sticks and electric wires on her maid. Moreover, after the abuse he has also denied necessary medical care to save her life.

The autopsy confirmed that the death is the result of torture and beatings that were prolonged for "weeks and months".  The defendant will remain in custody for the duration of the trail, postponed for the second hearing until 23 March.

Inside the house there was another 19 year old maid, who has confirmed before the judges that her employer "constantly beat her." A neighbor, Egyptian, testified before the magistrates reporting of continuous screams aimed at the victim, who was crying in pain and begging to be spared.

There are 18 million foreign workers in the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf out of a population of 42 million people. They come mainly from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ethiopia. UAE foreign labor is around 88.5% and, in spite of recent reforms in the labor market, they are always subject to abuse, violence, harassment.

The so-called "kafala" sponsorship in force in all the Gulf countries, binds the employee - domestic or external - to the employer and reduces them to slave-like conditions. The worker often cannot change employers who also have the power to deport the immigrant worker.

The picture is even more complicated for women workers and domestic workers, who are excluded from the regulations provided by the Ministry of Labour. In June 2014 a partial reform granted one free day a week to domestic workers and eight hours of rest in any 24-hour workday.

Recent research shows that there are at least 2.4 million migrant domestic workers in conditions of slavery in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia has increased the number of foreign domestic workers by 40% and Kuwait has seen a growth of 66%.

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