A labor story that has made national and international headlines earlier this month was the news of an Indonesian maid being brutally tortured by her employers in Saudi Arabia. For full coverage of the story and its aftermath, I would point readers to the Labourstart Indonesia webpage, which has a long list of articles from the past few weeks on the incident, in both English and Indonesian. The incident has caused a lot of discussion in the press about the plight of migrant workers, including the possibility of a moratorium on sending Indonesian domestic workers to the Middle East. One province has already decided on a three month moratorium and the House Deputy Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso was quoted as saying, “[Sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia] must be temporarily halted because [the alleged abuse] affects our dignity as a nation.”
Yet, this is only one in a series of headline grabbing incidents involving abuse of Indonesian domestic workers abroad and, in fact, weeks later the body of another Indonesian domestic worker was found in a dumpster in Saudia Arabia, allegedly killed by her employers. Judging from the press, it seems this case has taken the discussion on migrant workers’ rights much further than past cases, which have often left observers wondering, will this be the case that finally leads to real reform? It will be interesting to see this is the case activists have been waiting for or if it is another moment of moral and national outrage that doesn’t go anywhere? I’ll keep posting news on the topic as it comes out.