Combating Trafficking in Women for Labour Purposes and establishing State responsibility: The Plight of Ethiopian Migrant Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia
Abstract: The research explores the protections provided for migrant domestic workers who are highly undervalued and often exposed to trafficking, despite comprising an integral part of the labour force worldwide. Saudi Arabia is a focus destination country for the study, as it emerged from among the top destination countries absorbing 61 percent of recorded Ethiopian migrant domestic workers. Despite such high demand for household help, the Saudi Arabia national labour law excludes domestic workers and follows a strict sponsorship system that gives immense power to the employer and allows for possible abuse of power. The study of Ethiopia as a migrant sending country is also important due to the myriad number of children and women migrating to Saudi Arabia on a yearly basis, at the risk of the exposure to trafficking. Based on its principal objective, the research has explored and examined the plight of Ethiopian women throughout their labour migration to Saudi Arabia and reasoned towards establishing the concrete obligations of sending and host countries so as to hold States accountable under the International Law Commission Articles for State Responsibility. Accordingly, it has identified that both countries, depending on the circumstances, shoulder various obligations starting from prevention to safe repatriation of victims in the effort towards combating trafficking in women for domestic work purposes. The research further concludes that, with the appropriate analysis of the identified obligations, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia have not fully complied with the international standards for the elimination of trafficking for the exaction of forced labour and should accordingly be held accountable under international law.
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