There is need to enact a specific law that protects domestic workers if employers are to respect their rights, a local human rights advocacy body has said.
Lyhotely Ndagijimana, legal representative of the Association for Defense of Human Rights, Lasting Development and well being of the Family (ADBEF) says lack of legal protection of domestic workers had led to serious violations of their rights.
He made the remarks at the closing of a two-week training during which about 200 domestic workers underwent training on their rights and protection against HIV/Aids. The workers were also advised to report to Police and local leaders whenever their rights were abused.
“One of the reasons employers violate the rights of their domestic employees is the absence of a specific law. This means that no legal actions can be taken against offenders,” Ndagijimana said.
The training that attracted house helps in Kimisagara Sector of Nyarugenge District followed findings of a 2009 survey that indicated that local leaders are not doing enough to respond to complaints of domestic workers.
Ndagijimana said that the survey indicated that sexual abuse was one of the main causes of the high rate of HIV infection among domestic workers. The survey also found out that workers in this category suffer under a heavy workload, are under paid, dismissed without prior notice and sometimes physical abused.
Alice Uwimana, a domestic worker, said that reporting cases to local authorities has not helped domestic workers address these challenges.
“When domestic workers seek support from local leaders in case of challenges related to their work, leaders are not able to take measures and I think this is simply because we are not considered important despite the work we do for the wellbeing in homes,” she said.
About 30 local leaders from the sector have been trained to increase their capacity in handling cases between domestic workers and their employers.
ADBEF is supported by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).