Manama: They are dedicated and endeavour to offer the best services. They toil day and night, winter or summer and they rarely object to any kind of work. They think that their personal sacrifices will help them make enough money to fulfil some of their ambitions.

But there is a problem, some of these expatriate domestic helpers have not been paid their salaries for years. Kuwait Times has highlighted the plight of three such cases from three different countries.

In Case 1, a Sri Lankan housemaid who has worked for a Kuwaiti family for 17 years has not been paid a single dinar for all her years of service. The middle-aged woman is currently in the care of her country's embassy in Kuwait.

In Case 2, a Filipina housemaid who escaped from her abusive Kuwaiti employer after working with the family for over two years without any salary is forced to remain in the country living on the embassy's premises, for nearly a year until her case is resolved. She eventually got a release from her previous employer, but to this day she remains in the embassy's care, waiting for a new employer.

In Case 3, an Indonesian housemaid said that she has been subjected to all forms of verbal abuse and not been paid any salary for the last 18 months. The woman is in the custody of the Indonesian embassy.

These three cases illustrate the dilemma faced by some domestic helpers in Kuwait.

However, the government now hopes to change their misery and that of thousands of others who do not get their salaries by proposing amendments to the current legislation.

According to Brigadier General Abdullah Al Ali, the Managing Director of Kuwait's Immigration Department, cases of abuses could be avoided in the future if a plan to deposit a monthly salary directly into domestic helpers' bank-accounts is pushed through parliament.


Under the new text drafted by the government, employers will have to pay salaries directly to the domestic helpers' bank accounts and the state will establish a shelter for runaway housemaids which would house around 1,000 people.

The draft needs the parliament's endorsement. Sarath Dissanayake, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Kuwait, lauded the government's plan to implement a salary system which could help alleviate the suffering of many of his compatriots who work as domestic helpers.

"I think the plan is very encouraging. I hope they will implement it soon," he said, quoted by Kuwait Times.

"The Sri Lankan helper who worked for 17 years without receiving payment is currently under our custody; imagine working for 17 years without pay! If the salary system is implemented, the number of cases of salary non-payment could be minimised," Ambassador Dissanayake said.

Vivo Vidal, the Philippine Labour Attaché, praised the proposed measures, which he said would surely help reduce, if not eliminate, non-payment of salaries.

"It is favourable to our housemaids," he said. "Salary records can be tracked through local banks. In the event of complaints, we can check the bank records to see if an employer has failed to pay the housemaid's monthly salary."


Afrian Asri, Press Attaché with the Indonesian Embassy's Consular Affairs Division, welcomed the Kuwaiti government's proposal.

"It is a breakthrough in our endeavour to help our housemaids to get their monthly salary," he said. "In this way it is possible there could be no salary-related abuses."