Recruitment agency loses licence after running competition 'to win domestic worker’

Company advertises packages to employ women workers alongside insurance for ‘runaways’

Rachael Revesz
Monday 08 May 2017 10:26 BST

A recruitment agency is being investigated by authorities after it advertised a competition to “win a domestic worker”.

Offiicals in Bahrain suspended the company's licence temporarily after spotting the competition from the housemaid recruitment agency, Al Hazeem Manpower.

The agency's social media campaign called for people to participate in the contest organised during the month of Ramadan. There was only one condition for the prize winner – he or she must have a work permit to employ the housemaid.

Bahrain's Labour Market Regulatory Authority said in a statement it had suspended the licence of the agency until it has concluded its investigation.

LMRA's Chief Executive Ausamah Al Absi said the advert amounted to a suspected case of human trafficking.

“We have already suspended the licence of the agency, pending investigations,” he said.

“As part of social media scanning, our team found the agency was running a promotional advertisement online titled ‘Win a Domestic Worker’.

Al Hazeem Manpower said it had used the “wrong wording” and “immediately made the required changes”, as reported by local news. It could not be reached for comment by The Independent.

Mr Al Absi said the company treated workers as “commodities” and their advertising campaigns were “disrespectful” and “extremely offensive”.

On its Facebook page, the company advertises domestic services for “as low as BD499”, equivalent to around £1,000, and the price includes “two-year runaway insurance” – to protect against the workers’ escape – an air ticket and transfer.

Some packages also offer to “return the maid” if she becomes ill.

Workers are most commonly flown in from Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya. Their profiles and pictures are posted on Instagram.

Human rights campaigners have long called for stricter laws around domestic workers in Bahrain, following allegations from workers of modern slavery.

One instance was Ethiopian woman Seble Abebe Tessm, who worked in Bahrain for 15 years from the age of 20 and only got 18 months' salary.

She said she was too afraid to leave her employer, who forced her to sign receipts of payment she had never been given.

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