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Report shows widespread hidden abuse of domestic workers

July 2, 2008 4:19 PM

Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne has welcomed a report released today by Oxfam and the campaign group Kalayaan which sheds light on the extent of abuse of migrant domestic workers in the UK and highlights the importance of the currently under threat domestic worker visa ,which gives migrant domestic workers the same basic rights as other workers.

Around 17,000 migrant domestic workers from non-EU countries accompany their employers to the UK each year. The majority of these workers are poor women from the developing world. Many are sexually, physically, and psychologically abused by their employers.

Commenting today, Euro-MP Liz Lynne, who has long campaigned against trafficking and bonded labour and is also European Employment Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said

"This report gives a horrifying insight into the extent of abuse and exploitation of domestic workers in the UK; many of whom are offered what they believe to be a decent job, only to end up being exploited and sexually, physically and psychologically abused by their employers.

"I am glad that Government proposals to scrap the migrant domestic workers visa have for now been put on hold, but they must be buried for good as they would strip basic legal protection from people who often face abuse and exploitation as it is. We should be providing more protection for these often invisible workers, not less."

"If we are to fight the all too common abuse of migrant domestic workers it is vital that all migrant workers have the same rights afforded to any other workers. One way of ensuring this would be for the UK and other EU Member States to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their families, a long overdue measure and something the European Parliament recently called for in adopting my report on social reality stocktaking."

Notes to editors:

In 2006 the Government proposed that in future domestic workers could come to the UK as 'business visitors' on a six-month non-renewable visa, providing migrant domestic workers with no possibility of changing employers and no protection under UK employment law, but following outcries from human rights organisations these plans have now been put on hold until the end of 2010.

Oxfam's summary of the report: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/pressoffice/2008/07/new_research_reveals_abuse_and.html

For more information on Kalayaan: www.kalayaan.org.uk