ARAB News, By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN, Dec 7, 2010
|Labor Minister Adel Fakieh holds talks with his Indonesian counterpart|
in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Indonesia pledged at an event here on Tuesday to ensure more protection to domestic workers and have agreed to explore possibility of formulating an agreement on migrant-worker protection.
The announcement came following wide-ranging talks between Labor Minister Adel Fakieh and Muaimin Askandar, Indonesian minister of manpower and transmigration, who is currently visiting the Kingdom.
Hendrar Pramutyo, a senior Indonesian diplomat entrusted with the task of citizens' protection, said: "The two sides have also agreed to provide insurance to cover Indonesian workers deployed in the Kingdom."
Pramutyo said that Muhaimin also met with Ahmed Ibn Mohammed Al-Salem, undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior, and sought his support, especially for protecting Indonesian domestic helpers and prosecuting erring Saudi employers.
Indonesia's Women's Affairs Minister
Mrs. Linda Agum Gumelar
The trip of Muhaimin to the Kingdom, immediately following the visit of Linda Agum Gumelar, Indonesia's women affairs minister, comes amid pressures mounting on the government in Jakarta to work out a comprehensive plan and formulate an agreement to protect workers.
The visit comes after the reports to torture of two Indonesian migrant workers — Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, 23, who is recuperating from torture in hospital, and Kikim Komalasari, 34, who was murdered — were widely publicized in local and Indonesian media. Saudi officials have said the incidences of maid abuse are no more common in the Kingdom than in any other country. Some have blamed the media for exaggerating the problem.
Muhaimin, who will wrap up his visit to Riyadh on Wednesday, said he hoped his meetings and bilateral talks with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia will produce long-term improved security and working environment.
"We are here to ask the Saudi side to recognize our domestic workers so that they could earn some respect," said Muhaimin, in a press release issued here on Tuesday.
On the question of banning Indonesian female workers from working in the KIngdom, the minister denied there was any political momentum to do so. Pakistan and Egypt both do not allow women to come to the Kingdom to work as maids.
Indonesian workers shout slogans during a protest against the alleged abuse of Sumiati, an Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia, outside the Parliament, Jakarta last month. Twelve Indonesian Muslim organizations are pushing for an end to women seeking employment abroad without being accompanied by a blood relative. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
These Saudi students at a prayer event in Riyadh conform to the puritanical image of the country, but worldly pleasures are available behind closed doors to the very rich, WikiLeaks cables show. Photograph: Fahad Shadeed/Reuters