My first step onto European soil. Marilyn and I met in Rome for a week over Christmas and had an absolutely fabulous time. Even though it rained most of the time, we were out every day walking for miles seeing as much as possible before collapsing in our hotel for an afternoon nap. Then out to dinner to a cozy Italian dinner. It couldn't have been better! I took hundreds of photos with my new digital camera, so will be putting some up each week. hope it gives you a flavor of Italia . . .
i haven't had much time to organize my photos, but thought i'd finally just put up some pix i've taken of my home, work, etc. to give you some visual sense of my life in Kuwait. one of these days i'll try to reorganize but for now . . .
‘Ban on maids under 30 by India step in right direction’; Al-Huqooq defends rights of workers in Kuwait: Hashem
KUWAIT CITY: The Indian government’s proposed measure to ban women below the age of 30 from taking up employment as domestic help overseas — is a move in the right direction and other countries should also follow suit. This was disclosed by Hashem Majed, the Director of Al-Huqooq, a firm defending rights of workers in Kuwait. The measure was spearheaded by Renuka Chowdhury, the minister for women and children, who says domestic workers complained of being forced into prostitution and that their employers were seizing their passports. The ban will be applicable to Gulf countries, parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. Renuka was in Kuwait recently to support India’s bid for the 2014 Asian Games that was won by Incheon. “This is nothing new to Kuwait. The measure in question was implemented here last year and it has paid rich dividends so far, as crimes involving rape and non-payment against Indian maids have registered a decline,” Hashem Majed added.
Kuwait is home to some 250,000 Indian domestic workers. Hashem affirmed that Indian maids under 30 continue to come to Kuwait illegally but was quick to add that their number was negligible. “The agents back in India are responsible for illegally sending maids to Kuwait and at the same time some unscrupulous Kuwaiti sponsors do not comply with the regulations laid down by the concerned Indian authorities.”
Hashem went on to explain that domestic helpers should not come through illegal channels and, if they do so, then their rights could not be guaranteed. He said since the introduction of the contract system between the employee and the employer in the domestic sector, complaints of non-payment, under payment and harassment have dwindled. He also attributed this factor to domestic recruitment agencies that ensure work contracts are implemented to the letter by the sponsor. He said Al-Huqooq has hauled many unscrupulous sponsors to court following complaints of non-payment, harassment etc. by domestic workers. “We are determined to clear the image of Kuwait on the international arena and in this regard we need the cooperation of the authorities to bring our efforts to fruition.” Last year, Al-Huqooq, found a mention in the human rights report of the US State Department in recognition of its free legal services to domestic helpers who faced problems with their sponsors.
Referring to the government’s decision to grant amnesty to illegal expats, he said the amnesty came at a time when summer travel season is at its peak and felt that the amnesty should have been announced in the first week of April. “April is a relatively low travel season and air fares are low at that time of the year. Many airlines have jacked up fares by capitalizing on the huge rush for seats and low income workers were not in a position to afford the same. I think many illegal expats may not be able to beat the amnesty deadline.”
Not stopping at that, Hashem went on to say that an awareness campaign preceding the amnesty would have gone a long way in avoiding the sudden rush. “The authorities should have published brochures — pertaining to amnesty — in different languages including: Hindi, Urdu, Bengali etc and circulated the same in all public places. Many expats got to know about the amnesty after it began and so they were not well prepared for it.” He said the number of maids arriving from Philippines have fallen over the last few months after Manila proposed a minimum wage for its domestic help. Hashem observed that Al-Huqooq was working relentlessly to repatriate numerous Nepali workers whose work permits have expired and who wish to avail of the amnesty. “This is a huge task because Nepal does not have an embassy in Kuwait. So we have to get consular assistance for these workers from the nearest GCC country. Hopefully we will be able to complete their paperwork soon and have them repatriated to their country.”