International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Protection of the Female Domestic Migrant Workers: Concerns, Challenges and Regulatory Measures in Sri Lankan Context
M. A.D.S.J.S. Niriella

Female Population as a percentage of the total in Sri Lanka was last reported at 50.66 in 2012.With the introduction of the concept of open economy to the country in 1977, new means of earning were integrated into the (traditional) economic process that existed. As a result, Sri Lankan females got more opportunities to enter into the economic process under the unskilled labour category especially in Middle Eastern Countries such as Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. From 1977 to date, there has been a gradual increase in women who leave the country to obtain domestic jobs in the above mentioned countries. Today Sri Lankan females migrate at a large scale as domestic workers to Middle Eastern Countries as well as Western Countries especially to European Countries, making it the highest and most stable source of foreign currency inflow to the country. In 2011, the total foreign remittance received from migrant workers was increased by 25% which was 5145 million USD and the female migrant domestic workers should be appreciated for their contribution of 75% out of the said amount. Though it contributes to the economic stability of the country it also led to create many social issues which seriously affect the Sri Lankan society. Family breakdown, increase in the offence of incest and increase in juvenile delinquencies are some of the issues. More critically, these females have to face many problems such as lack of social and occupational security, lack of recognition, wage discrimination and difficulties in access to justice. This could be considered as serious violation of their rights as humans and employees. The empirical data reveals that during the last three decades there were many instances reported that Sri Lankan female domestic workers had to undergo a wide range of hardships including refusal of payments, violating the term of employment contract, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassments, rape and torture that led to disability or even death. Sri Lanka, as a member State to many international treaties which declared standards to protect the civil and economic rights of the people should have a responsibility to adopt a strong policy, international agreements and national laws which align with the international standards to ensure the protection of the rights of these workers. Though Sri Lanka has enacted some national laws and adopted a policy, the rights of the female domestic migrant workers are still violated massively. Therefore, the present study intends to critically evaluate the contemporary national laws and existing policy in relation to the protection of the rights of Sri Lankan female domestic migrant workers and make suggestions to strengthen the prevailing policy and laws. This objective will be achieved by testing the following hypothesis; the gap between the international standards and the national laws and the weak policy adopted by Sri Lanka led to violate the rights of the female domestic migrant workers. Relevant information from books, treaties, statues, journal articles and websites are referred as secondary sources and information and statistics gathered by relevant authorities are used as primary sources to complete this research.

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