SIXTEEN women have been rescued during raids conducted on recruitment offices, it has emerged.
Recruitment firms in the country are obliged to provide temporary accommodation for newly-hired workers, which inspectors from the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) found some to be in violation of the law.
Teams from the LMRA conducted raids, in co-operation with other government bodies, last month during which they rescued the women, majority of whom were Ethiopian.
The women, brought to Bahrain to work as domestic workers, were kept in poor living conditions or were allegedly mistreated, revealed LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi.
“We conducted raids in different recruitment offices and found that domestic workers were kept in poor conditions and in some case maltreated,” he told the GDN.
“Some of the workers were moved to the Expat Protection and Assistance Centre in Sehla and others wanted to return back to their homes.
“We have also provided a grace period for some workers to find suitable jobs.”
Three offices were also shut down last month as part of the inspections.
“We rescued 16 domestic workers last month and our inspections are not temporary but a continuous process,” added Mr Al Absi.
“Three offices were shut down last month and their licences were revoked.
“We continue to investigate the case against those recruitment agencies involved and a decision will be taken shortly on the subject.”
All recruitment agencies in the country have to pay a security deposit of BD10,000 to complete licensing and other procedures.
This deposit is used by the LMRA if a firm is found to be in violation of the law or owes money to workers.
Last week the LMRA also rescued a housemaid who was staying at a temporary accommodation provided by a recruitment office and contacted the 995 hotline.
“We also receive distress calls from 995 and in this particular case we went with the police and rescued this female worker from the temporary residence of the recruitment agency,” said Mr Al Absi, who is also the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons chairman.
“Action is being taken against the office and to help this worker.”
He added that a team of 70 inspectors conducted 33,000 visits across Bahrain, from January until November this year, which was a 37.5 per cent increase compared to 2016, resulting in the recording of 25,000 offences.
“LMRA will take strict action against any violator within its mandate to prevent such cases in the future,” said Mr Al Absi.
Domestic workers form nearly 7pc of Bahrain’s total population, according to LMRA indicators.
A total of 99,417 domestic workers (including 75,305 females) were employed in the first quarter of this year, compared with 93,891 until the end of March last year.
The GDN reported last week that copies of a comprehensive job contract stating the rights and duties of domestic workers were distributed to over 130 registered recruitment agencies in Bahrain.
The two-year contract, which aims to prevent exploitation of housemaids, will have to be signed by the worker before arriving in Bahrain.
Employers have to compulsorily declare, among other things, the nature of the job, working hours and weekly day off in the contract.