GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Anju Mary
Title of Paper:
Laws without Teeth or Muscle: Examining Migrant Domestic Worker Programs and Policies in the Gulf
Paper Proposal Text :
Since the 1970s, there has been steady growth in demand for migrant domestic workers in the seven Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. This paper analyses the migrant domestic worker programs established by these countries. I first consider the degree of robustness within these programs and whether or not they spell out minimum standards for the cost of entry, the sponsorship structure, minimum wage rates, minimum working and living conditions, and the employment rights guaranteed workers. I next look at the reality on the ground, in terms of the enforcement of these policies by the government. I find that the Gulf states are weak on two fronts: both the robustness (the muscle) of their existing laws concerning migrant domestic workers, and the enforcement (the teeth) of whatever laws they do have. These twin-failings introduce significant variability into the average migrant domestic worker experience, with the worker’s employer determining the overall standard of living. I propose that migrant rights activists and migrant-source-country governments should focus their attentions on pressuring Gulf states to enhance the enforcement of existing laws (even if these laws are relatively weak), as this will help ensure a minimum level of care for all migrant domestic workers in the Gulf. I draw from examples of migrant domestic worker programs in Asia to suggest effective enforcement mechanisms that Gulf States should be adopting.