Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeLatest NewsMyanmar women seeking work abroad deceived by job agencies

Myanmar women seeking work abroad deceived by job agencies


Women from Myanmar seeking work opportunities abroad as foreign domestic helpers told DVB that they face labor rights violations and have no legal recourse in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

From April 2023 to February 2024, 160,000 Myanmar women sought official employment in North Africa and the Persian Gulf. They applied to job ads offering high salaries on social media.

One told DVB that she paid one million kyat ($477 USD) to an agent for a job as a domestic helper for a family in Dubai, UAE. When she arrived the agent held on to her passport and demanded further compensation.

“Her wages for working one month and seven days haven’t been paid. When she asked the employer, they said the agency would handle it. However, the agency has failed to disburse the wages or return her passport,” the woman’s husband told DVB.

Myanmar women employed as domestic helpers in several countries across North Africa and the Persian Gulf have reported being confined to their rooms for extended periods of time and were denied a proper amount of food to eat.

“One challenge is the vast difference in living styles between our country and places like Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Oman, and Egypt. This poses a significant challenge for the workers. When workers face these challenges and wish to return home, agents cite the costs of airline tickets and demand compensation,” said an anonymous human rights activist helping overseas workers from Myanmar.

Six Myanmar women who told DVB they were trafficked from Dubai to Egypt for work have filed reports with the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Egyptian embassy. 

“In countries like Egypt and Oman, Myanmar lacks official authorization to facilitate employment. Domestic workers often arrive on tourist visas. Their wages aren’t paid regularly, and their [identification documents] are confiscated. Consequently, they are powerless to take action, especially if they are not fluent in the local language,” added the human rights activist.  

One Myanmar woman who took a job as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia told DVB that her employer became violent and she had to leave the home without any of her belongings. She was later arrested by police.

“When I reached out to her agency, they refused to take responsibility and wouldn’t help me. All I want is for my daughter to return to me safely,” the woman’s mother told DVB.

After the 2021 military coup, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Myanmar has reached nearly 2.9 million. Over one million people have fled the country to seek asylum due to the conflict and the collapse of the economy.

Millions of Myanmar migrants work in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea. Now many women from Myanmar are being lured by slick job ads online to countries in North Africa and the Persian Gulf with offers of high salaries, but when they arrive they quickly realize they’ve become victims of human trafficking gangs. Some have reported being smuggled to work in Iran, Iraq and Syria.


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