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Man questioned over video of domestic helper abuse

By Rana Husseini - Dec 08,2015 - Last updated at Dec 08,2015

In this image grab taken from a video posted on YouTube, a man is seen purportedly kicking a domestic helper

AMMAN — The authorities on Tuesday were questioning a man who allegedly appeared in a video that went viral showing him beating up and abusing a female domestic helper.

The video shows a man in a suit hitting a woman, later confirmed to be an Asian domestic helper, who was wearing sports pants and crawling on the floor trying to avoid his abuse at an office.

The clip captures the man reportedly dragging and pushing the woman, who was crying and asking him to stop, then using his arms and legs to hit and kick her on various parts of her body, including her face. 

In one instance the man is allegedly seen pulling her scarf and attempting to strangle her with it.

Basel Tarawneh, the government coordinator on human rights, denounced the incident saying that his office was in constant contact with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) at the Public Security Department (PSD).

“We are coordinating with the AHTU because we care for the well-being and human rights of any individual who is residing in the Kingdom regardless of their nationality.” 

Tarawneh stressed the government’s commitment to safeguarding the human rights of domestic helpers and — at the same time — “we will not hesitate to punish anyone who abuses them.” 

Khaled Hseinat, president of the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association (DHRAA), voiced his outrage over the incident captured in the video.

“We are upset about this incident and condemn it. We do not accept such practices and we want the perpetrator to be punished for what he did when it is proven in court,” Hseinat told The Jordan Times.

He added that the DHRAA formed a committee immediately after news about the video surfaced and the individual was identified, the AHTU was notified.

“The individual was an agent at a recruitment agency and the AHTU officers arrested him when we provided them with his identity,” Hseinat said.

He noted that the DHRAA will follow up on the case and “if the individual is proven to be guilty, we will refer him to the Ministry of Labour for further action and he will be prevented from working through our union in this field.”

Tarawneh added that the victim was called to the AHTU on Tuesday and was able “to positively identify the man as the individual in the video that abused her”.

“This incident took place a month-and-a-half ago and the police are currently questioning the suspect and will issue a statement in the coming days regarding this incident,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times.

PSD Spokesperson Lt. Col. Amer Sartawi and officials from the AHTU were unavailable to comment on the incident or provide details on the ongoing investigations.

Meanwhile, the video was widely shared on social media and dozens of people denounced its content.

Nazar Samarrai wrote on his Facebook page: “I hope that the person in the video will be tried on charges of attempted murder so he will learn a lesson. This is a disgusting act.”

Another Facebook user, Fares Khalifeh, commented on the clip saying that it was “a savage act without any feelings or respect for human rights”.

Naela Tamimi described the act as a “form of slavery... against Islamic teachings that call for preserving the dignity and rights of all human beings,” in a Facebook comment.

In August, the government announced several procedures to safeguard the rights of domestic helpers in Jordan, who numbered more than 49,000 by the end of 2014.

The new measures, which also seek to combat human trafficking, are believed to be providing better protection to domestic workers and a work environment in line with international standards, Tarawneh said at the time.

The new regulations give the labour minister the authority to immediately close down domestic helper recruitment agencies proven to violate human rights, while work is under way to establish shelters for those who face problems with their employers.

In addition, the ministry has revisited the unified contract for domestic workers to safeguard the rights and duties of all involved parties in cooperation with their embassies.

The ministry has also reached out to the PSD to urge police stations not to return domestic helpers to their employers unless through a representative from their respective embassies.

The measures also include initiating a hotline in five languages for domestic helpers to receive their complaints.

A total of 14,382 Filipinos, 5,759 Sri Lankans and 22,433 Bangladeshis were working as domestic helpers in Jordan in 2014, according to official figures.

In 2003, Jordan became the first Arab country to use a unified standard contract for domestic workers, and in 2008 it included domestic workers under its Labour Law.

In 2009, the government issued regulations specifying labour protection, such as a maximum of 10 hours of work per day, a minimum of eight hours of continuous rest daily, a weekly day of rest, and regular salary payments.

 

That same year the government ratified the Anti-Human Trafficking Law and formed a national committee to draw up policies and plans to prevent human trafficking.  

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