The Sultanate of Oman will no longer be issuing work visas for domestic workers from the five African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, and Guinea. A senior official from the Royal Oman Police explained that the government implemented the official ban yesterday, on 1 February 2016, but had already been in the process of cutting recruits from these countries for a few months. The government explained that the decision was made in order to prevent the spread of African diseases in Oman and to prevent crimes associated with domestic workers from these countries. Those workers who are already living in Oman, however, will be permitted to stay and renew their worker contracts.
Many poverty-stricken East African women have traveled to Oman hoping to find work, so that they can send remittances home. However, human rights groups have raised numerous concerns about Oman’s treatment of its domestic workers. As in other Gulf countries, migrant workers may be subject to isolation and abuse, with employers who refuse to pay their salaries. One young Ethiopian maid was raped by her sponsor and his friends and dumped in the desert to die. Locals found her and she was able to obtain medical attention; however, she was arrested for being a “runaway,” as reported by her employer. She has since been able to return to Ethiopia.
Margaret Bailey is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.