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Probe media reports on abuse of Malawian women: Al-Ghanim – ‘Expats rights will be protected’

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KUWAIT CITY, April 25: AbdulRahman Al Ghanim — the Counselor of the Migrant Labor Committee at Kuwait Society for Human Rights and the Ministry of Interior — called to investigate about what was published in the Malawian media about the network that sells Malawian women in Kuwait and force them into sex and to take these media reports seriously since Kuwait is considered a humanitarian work center under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah, may Allah protect him, a press statement issued by the Society said.

Al-Ghanim demanded to activate the Law No. 91/2013 related to human trafficking and migrants smuggling earnestly, to double the investigation and prosecution efforts, and to emphasize that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of this crime. Kuwait adopted Law No. 91 of 2013 on combating human trafficking and migrants smuggling which is one of the leading laws in the Arab region law in this area.

However, we note that it is not activated at the required level in the light of the dramatic spread of residence permit traders which requires its activation to ensure the rights of migrant labor. Al-Ghanim added that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, represented by the Public Authority for Labor Force has referred 51 individuals accused of exploiting workers in forced labor to the public prosecutor in 2014.

Also recently it has referred 34 individuals accused of human trafficking crimes, but we have not seen any verdict so far on the basis of the Law No. (91/2013 ) on combating human trafficking and migrants smuggling, as the public prosecutor is conditioning crimes and specialization.

Thus, these violations are conditioned as the prejudice to individuals’ freedom and their right to travel and the non-exploitation in forced or compulsory labor, and therefore, other laws are applied such as Law of work in civil sector, Penal Code, or others rather than Law No. 91/2013.

Al-Ghanim stressed the importance of building the abilities of judges, prosecutors, investigators and police officers in dealing with human trafficking issues through training, conferences, and workshops. Al-Ghanim urged the media to continue to carry out their pivotal role in spreading awareness about the magnitude of this crime, introducing its seriousness, and educating the most targeted groups, essentially migrant labor and on special bases domestic workers, in order not to be victims of this crime. That is through media and the languages they speak.

Al-Ghanim said that in the coming days, the Society will launch the project Together to educate migrant labor on their rights in Kuwait, which will contribute greatly in finding a structure of knowledge among workers. That is by raising awareness of their rights by using the languages they speak and provide them with legal counseling as a contribution to alleviate the violations they are exposed to and to promote human rights in Kuwait.

Meanwhile, earlier, a local Arabic daily Al-Rai said, Malawian women trafficked to Kuwait remain trapped and subjected to all sorts of abuses according to the Malawi News investigation team. The Malawi newspaper said women are forced to engage in sex or are given odd jobs. To add insult to injury, they are not paid the promised sum of money when were trafficked out of the country.

In one case, a relative of one of the victims had to involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who facilitated her rescue and travel back home this week, according to the newspaper. The women are being trafficked through the Kamuzu International Airport to Kuwait where upon arrival, they have their passports confiscated and they are deployed into sex work or domestic tasks in a hostile environment.

The newspaper mentioned the members of the ring are Congolese who is the coordinator, a Burundian working as a medical doctor and two Malawians including a woman, who is working for the Malawian Ministry of Information.

The Times said the process begins with medical tests for interested candidates (women) and the jobs available include domestic work and office assistants. Women only aged between 21 and 40 are eligible to apply.

According to one of the victims whose location at the moment cannot be disclosed, said the agents are taking advantage of people’s poverty, vulnerability and illiteracy.

The victim said her passport was confiscated upon arrival in Kuwait and she was told she has to wear the Muslim attire all the time regardless of her faith. She added: “I went to sleep at 11:00 pm and woke up at 3:00 am. I took bath once a day or a day could go without. I ate only one meal a day. I was not allowed to use any phones or get out of the house.”

Another victim said there are many Malawian women who are trapped in sex trade and are suffering all manner of abuses. She added, she was bought by a Kuwaiti sponsor from one of the agents for $7,000. She revealed there are many other Malawian women in Kuwait who are forced to engage in sexual acts. Reacting to the human trafficking reports, the Malawian Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Jappie Mhango, said he is not aware of what this is happening but said the agents deserve to face the law.

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