Friday , November 17 2017

Necessity, not a luxury

Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi

The life course of an individual in our country has been affected dramatically due to development of life in various aspects and changes through the modern concepts of living, especially in the economic and social aspects, where women are going to work, the number of members in a single family has increased and the size of a house has expanded.

Due to the abovementioned factors, continuous care of the household is necessary, which the wife or mother cannot do on her own. This has brought about the concept of domestic workers/ housemaids — a necessity that even precede the necessity of having furniture in the house.

In other words, having a domestic worker in any Kuwaiti house is no longer considered a luxury but has become a necessity and no one can deny its importance in our lives.

However, the domestic labor recruitment industry has gone through crisis after crisis in the past few years, which started with the problem in recruiting housemaids from Indonesia, followed by problems in recruiting housemaids from India. In fact, it is only recently after many years of ban that recruitment of housemaids from Bangladesh has commenced but under new regulations this time.

The crises that incurred in the domestic labor industry led to efforts in bringing housemaids from Africa such as countries like Ethiopia among others. However, it did not take long for the ban on recruitment of domestic workers from Ethiopia because of what was published in various news outlets. During the term of the 2013 parliament, tremendous efforts were exerted to revive this industry in a manner that can positively serve the locals’ interests.

These efforts were pioneered by the then- MP Kamel Al-Awadhi along with some other MPs when they suggested establishment of a company which will be in charge of recruiting domestic workers at a reasonable cost. Indeed, the recruitment of domestic workers became better. The idea of establishing bodies or giving recruitment right to bodies like Kuwait Investment Authority or the cooperative societies gave optimism to the public in this aspect, especially when it came to the cost of acquiring the services of domestic workers.

However, without prior warning, the mention of such companies ended, especially in the current parliament. It is as if the entire issue is a puzzle. We remember that three Kuwaiti embassies had sent letters to the concerned official bodies in the country concerning the cost of recruiting domestic workers. The suggested cost was very reasonable — it was about KD 375, which is considered one third of the cost that we were and are paying under the crisis.

Could there be some hidden agenda regarding the reason why the new parliament stopped deliberating on this important issue? What happened to the letters that were sent by the three of our embassies? What happened to moves to solve the crisis with the concerned authorities in Indonesia and India? Is the government really concerning itself with this issue? There are many questions to ask concerning this issue which need clear answers.

The citizen, before anyone else, is the victim of this predicament. It is the citizens who taste the bitterness of dealing with the domestic labor bureaus and its rudeness when interacting with citizens, to the extent that the cost of acquiring services of domestic workers has reached unbelievable rates. Who should take responsibility of that? Is it the countries from where domestic workers are recruited or is it our government?

By Yousef Awadh Al-Azmi

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