Kuwait Community

5 August 2022

Migrant Workers and Their Lack of Knowledge on Their Rights in Kuwait

Saihaj Rehsi

 

Kuwait Aid Network prides itself on helping migrant workers in Kuwait, and as a part of its slogan, we aim to change lives. However, many do not know how these migrant workers ended up in this situation. 

Alongside its neighbours in the Gulf, Kuwait participates in the Kafala System, a system “entrenched in the belief that certain races exist to serve a supposed superior race”. Migrant workers, through sponsors, leave their home countries to find better jobs and send money home to their families, however, these individuals are worked to the bone with little to send back. They tended to be impoverished and uneducated and would take up any job they could, such as janitorial staff or nannies to the rich, without any guaranteed salary. 

A large number of migrant workers come to Kuwait without knowing any of the laws or rights that protect them. Often, they cannot learn Kuwaiti laws because they do not speak Arabic and simply come to Kuwait to work and earn money because they have no other options. In Kuwait, one’s Civil Identification card is their lifeline because it is the only thing that allows them to access services such as healthcare. However, many migrant workers do not possess Civil ID cards because their sponsors withhold them. As a result, they are limited in the resources and services they can access with their passports, which are also often taken from them by their employers to prevent workers from reporting abuse, seeking medical care, or leaving their current job. Moreover, by taking their passports, employers ensure that their workers cannot go back home to see family and must keep working to earn enough money. 

Because migrant workers often don’t have Civil ID cards or passports, they are ultimately stuck in Kuwait and cannot report abuse from their employer to the police or go to the hospital to get adequate treatment. Thus, they hide their discomfort and pain both because they have no option to get help but also because they are afraid of going against their employer and losing their job because then they cannot send money home. Unfortunately, the Kafala system continues to prevent migrant workers from earning a sustainable livelihood and sending money back home. 

Through your help, Kuwait Aid Network can help migrant workers who have been wronged by their employers. Monetary donations go a long way in supporting those in need in Kuwait. Aside from this, KAN accepts item donations and welcomes volunteers to teach skills to those our organization supports. Get in touch with us at [email protected]!

Taking action, creating change. Kuwait Aid Network.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Canada Kuwait Aid Network.”

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