Qatar migrants caught up in “kafala” system

The Guardian reported on the case of several migrant workers in Qatar who are apparently caught up in the “kafala” system of employer sponsorship

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Britain-based newspaper The Guardian reported on the case of several migrant workers in Qatar who are apparently caught up in the “kafala” system of employer sponsorship.

Using fake names to protect their interviewees, the newspaper spoke to “Maria” and “Maricel” who traveled to the Gulf state for a promised a salary of 1,200 Qatari riyals ($330), reportedly more than they had been making in their native Philippines.

It did not take long for their aspirations to fade, according to the newspaper. Upon arriving in Doha, their employer confiscated their passports and the women were placed in their employer’s care under the “kafala,” or sponsorship, system.

Since then, they have allegedly gone for long periods without pay, receiving barely 400 riyals in six months.

“Three of us came on 5 July and they gave us 100 riyals for July and 100 riyals for 2 August and 200 riyals for 8 August,” said another worker to The Guardian, she called herself Jane. “Four hundred riyals only for three months – the last money we received.”

The women told the newspaper they were hired as waitresses but have also worked as cleaners, maids, housekeepers, cooks and babysitters.

Domestic workers in Qatar work some of the longest hours in the world, according to figures released by the International Labor Organization in 2013.

According to the women, they are not regularly provided with food.

Rothna Begum, who researches women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, told The Guardian that food deprivation was a “huge issue.” She said, “food deprivation is a form of abuse.”

Meanwhile, it was reported last week that more than 500 Nepalese workers in Qatar died on the Gulf state’s building sites as the country prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

Responding to concerns about the treatment of its workers, Qatar’s World Cup authorities recently released a 50-page report which sets out in detail the guidles they expect World Cup stadium contractors to observe.

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