The Kafala system is an oppressive system propelling modern-day slavery. This labour system is dominant in the Arab States. The Kafala system controls unskilled and semi-skilled workers from Africa and South Asia majorly women.
Unlike western countries which prefer a highly skilled labour force, Arab countries prefer semi-skilled labour.
The employer is usually responsible for the worker’s legal status and visa. Contracts are signed in Arabic and movement is restricted. Any attempt at movement is rewarded by immediate deportation.
Domestic workers in these countries can only regain their freedom after repaying their employers with the agency recruitment fee, visa fee, and flight ticket.
Under the Kafala system workers are exempted from Lebanese labour laws that dictate the minimum wage, legal working hours, overtime compensation, freedom of association, and vacation.
By far and large employers have complete power and autonomy over their employees.
Therefore, labour laws do not apply in these cases.
That predisposes domestic labour to abuse such as physical violation, starvation, beatings, poor working conditions, and in extreme cases even rape.
Additionally, employees are subjected to emotional and psychological torture such as cutting off communication with their kin.
Despite the statistics of victims going higher every day, the government has failed to find a long time solution to the immigration of domestic workers to the gulf countries .
The Kafala system is practiced in Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Despite the international backlash the Kafala system receives, remittances from the Gulf countries contribute a huge chunk of Kenya’s GDP second only to the United States.
Little wonder why the government has failed to institute long-lasting measures.
The history of the Kafala system dates back to the 1950s. It was meant to help foreigners access temporary employment in the host country projects.
Immigrant labour dominantly comprises the underprivileged in society.
The wealthy in the gulf societies always imported cheap labour from Africa. To date, history lives on.
The government with the human rights groups ought to respond to the suicide reports by the immigrant labourers by putting in place new legislation regarding the Kafala system.