Exploitation of Nepal’s Migrant Workers

Nepal migrant workers

Families of migrant workers in Morang district, Nepal, 2011, who were interviewed by Amnesty International.

 “Migrant workers from Nepal and other countries are like cattle in Kuwait.  Actually, cattle are probably more expensive than migrant workers there.  No one cares whether we die or are killed. Our lives have no value.” –N.R., domestic worker from Ilam district, Nepal

Anyone who has waited for a flight at Kathmandu, Nepal’s international airport has seen the large groups of men and women quietly lining up to board flights for Qatar or Malaysia, many appearing nervous, clutching only their papers or a small bag of belongings.

But the men and women boarding these flights have reason to be nervous. While some Nepalese migrant workers arrive in the destination country and earn decent wages, others end up in forced labor or exploitative conditions.

These are some of the estimated 25,000 people a month who leave Nepal for work abroad to escape poverty and unemployment at home and to send remittances back to their families in Nepal.


Female Domestic Workers Must Be Protected in Indonesia

By Carole Marzolf, Indonesia Country Specialist for Amnesty International

This week President Obama paid his first ever visit to Indonesia since he took office in 2008. It took place in a heavy climate as President Yudhoyono is dealing with two simultaneous natural disasters: an earthquake followed by a deadly tsunami and a series of volcano eruptions which have triggered international media attention. Yet, while these catastrophes may provide the media with ‘outstanding’ visuals, a silent human tragedy unfurling the whole archipelago goes unreported.

Every year in Indonesia, an estimated 20,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth. Amnesty International published last week a report on maternal health in Indonesia. This report shows that discriminatory laws, gender stereotyping and criminalization of abortion constitute violations of women’s rights and of the state’s duty to guarantee the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and the threat of criminalization.

But the report also pointed out that some groups such as domestic workers are more vulnerable than others to violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. An estimated 2.6 million people work as domestic workers in Indonesia, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. Girls under 18 years old are believed to make up a third of that figure. Yet, the 2003 Manpower Act fails to provide any form of protection to Indonesian domestic workers who have been left out of the piece of legislation.