HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT BLOCKED

Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has blocked Human Rights Watch (HRW) from launching a report on abuses against migrant Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and United Arab Emirates. Dr Willium Kindekete of COSTECH said the commission decided to ban the report because the researchers did not follow procedures.

He said HRW officials who were to launch the report have some immigration issues. “Their visas do not identify them as researchers, but just visitors; so they aren’t allowed to work in the country,” said Dr Kindekete.

HRW researcher on Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Rothna Begum, said she had followed the correct procedures – including getting agreement for the launch from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour – but received information of the ban one hour before the scheduled launch. She noted that something must have happened behind the scenes leading to the ban. She added that the real focus of the research was to give a chance to the government to find a way forward in helping domestic workers from Tanzania abused in Oman and UAE.

She said HRW interviewed 87 people including Tanzanian officials, trade unionists, recruitment agents and 50 Tanzanian female domestic workers who worked in Oman and the UAE. “All the respondents said their employers and agents confiscated their passports. Many worked long hours (up to 21 hours a day) without rest. They said they were paid less than promised or not at all, forced to eat spoiled or left-over food, shouted at and insulted daily and physically and sexually abused.”

The report, “Working Like a Robot’: Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates” was released by Human Rights Watch on their website. It found that Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) face excessive working hours, unpaid salaries, and physical and sexual abuse. Abusive visa-sponsorship rules in those countries and gaps in Tanzania’s policies leave the women exposed to exploitation, according to the report.

There are thousands of Tanzanian domestic workers in the Middle East. While some have decent working conditions, many others face abuse, said Human Rights Watch.

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