The government of Zimbabwe reports that 150 Zimbabwean women remain stranded in Kuwait after a human trafficking syndicate had promised them lucrative jobs in the country. According to the All Africa Herald, the scam allegedly involved the staff of Kuwait’s embassy in Harare. So far, 15 women have been successfully repatriated.
In 2015, Kuwait’s ranking in the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report went unchanged for the eighth year in a row, Yet, the country remains a harbor for forced labor and forced prostitution. This is largely due to Kuwait’s sponsorship laws that tie workers to their employers and penalize them for trying to escape an abusive situation. This is especially the case for domestic workers who work in private homes without the protection of any domestic labor law.
While Kuwait did refer hundreds of visa fraud violators and suspected traffickers for prosecution, authorities have only investigated one case so far. Current laws are not sufficient to properly prosecute either recruitment firms or abusive employers. There is no formal mechanism to identify victims of trafficking, who are usually arrested, detained, and deported. According to both the State Department and Human Rights Watch, in order to comply with international standards, it is Kuwait’s responsibility to fully implement its 2013 anti-trafficking law so that migrant workers can be better protected from exploitation.
Margaret Bailey is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.