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Reports Reveal Sexual Abuse and Arbitrary Beatings of Domestic Workers in Oman, Including Those from Rakhine

Narinjara News, April 27, 2023

Women from Myanmar who work as maids in Oman in the Middle East, are often victims of sexual harassment and forced labor during their working hours. Narinjara has interviewed a number of these women who reported being subjected to sexual harassment and forced labor in Oman.


The women included Rakhine and Chin communities in Myanmar. They reported being forced to work overtime, experiencing sexual harassment, working without any days off, not receiving adequate food, and being physically beaten.


A young Chin woman shared with Narinjara that she had reached out to the employment agency responsible for sending them to Oman, and asked for assistance regarding these situations, but no action was taken.


In March, our bosses went on the Ramadan fast. Since then the boss has been angry for nothing. She slapped me when she got angry. When she slapped me, I shielded myself with my hand and wasnt hurt, I could no longer tolerate the abuse. I reached out to the agents for help, but they only asked me to send them a photo of the injury and Didnt take any further action, shared the woman.


The Chin woman reported that her Arab employer hit her on the back with her palm for the first time in February.


In February, my boss hit me on the back for no reason. I wasnt injured.  My boss seemed to be uneasy with something, so I didnt report the incident to the agent. I cried to myself and tried to find solace,she told Narinjara.


According to a young Rakhine woman from Myebon Township who is working as a maid in Shinas- Oman, many women in similar positions wished to voice their grievances regarding their working conditions, but face significant language barriers, and lack access to organizations that can assist them in filing complaints.


Perhaps the most distressing aspect of the job is dealing with predatory bosses. They may treat their maids only with contempt when their wives are present, but engage in inappropriate behavior in their absence. Even if the boss himself is not a predator, the siblings of the bosss wife act inappropriately and forcefully touch the maids. In some cases, the boss may even demand that the maids have sexual relations with him.


Although there is a hotline (9999) available to report such incidents, language barriers often make it difficult for us to file complaints,” she said.


She reported that she traveled to Oman on August 1, 2022, with the help of a broker based in Myanmar. However, upon reaching her destination, the brokers based in Oman confiscated both her passport and phone.


She said that she began working for an Arab boss on August 8th She explained that she started working from 6 am and did household chores continuously, and could only rest at 11 pm or later each day.


A resident of Kyaiklat Township in Ayeyarwady Region reported that Myanmar women working as maids in Oman are often not given sufficient food by their employers.


They only provide me with one meal a day. In the morning, I am only given coffee, nothing else. Even if they purchase bread or snacks, they conceal everything from me, and dont provide me with anything to eat. At night they also hide the chapatis and ramen noodles that they buy. I had to use my own salary to buy ramen, she stated.


She said that she was frustrated and did not want to work after facing difficulties in the workplace, but the agent told her that she would have to complete the contract for 2 years.


According to a young woman from Myebon township in Rakhine state, changing employers would mean starting a new 2-year contract, while  individuals who wish to terminate their employment and return home must repay the expenses. As a result, many women are forced to endure difficult working conditions and remain in their current jobs.


The boss warned us that if we didnt complete the 2-year contract, we would have to repay the money. He also made it clear that the passports would be destroyed and not returned,” she said.


Despite being rich in natural resources, Rakhine State faces a shortage of employment opportunities. As a result, many young people from the region choose to seek work abroad each year.


According to reports, young women from Rakhine are employed as domestic workers in various foreign countries, where they frequently encounter challenges and hardships.


Myanmar women who work as domestic workers in Oman receive a monthly salary ranging from 100 to 120 Omani Riyals, equivalent to approximately 800,000 Kyats in Myanmar currency.


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