Senate working on new law to protect house helps

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The Bill for Act to provide for documentation and protect domestic workers and employers scales second reading in Senate on Wednesday.

This followed presentation of the lead debate by sponsor of the bill, Sen. Magnus Abe at plenary.

Presenting the bill, Abe said it sought to protect domestic workers from abuse by providing minimum conditions of service such as number of hours to work, break and rest times as well as off days.

He added that the bill sought to protect them from sexual abuse, physical abuse, slave labour and ensure injury compensation and mode of payment.

Abe stressed that the bill sought to reduce and deter the propensity of domestic workers’ connivance with criminals against employers.

He added that this could be achieved by maintaining full biometric data and other relevant background information of domestic workers nationwide.

“This bill further seeks to keep track of migration of domestic workers from other countries and among states within the country for security purposes.

“It will also provide specific and adequate sanctions for offenders within the framework of the law.

“Also, it seeks to formalise the services of all categories of domestic workers, capture their contributions to the GDP of the nation to enhance national planning,” he said.

He noted that Nigeria had witnessed an increase in incidents of assaults and abuse if domestic workers by their employers or hosts.

He said the abuses bother on slave labour, physical abuse and sexual abuse, among others.

According to him, the stories are gory, traumatic and mind bugling.

He added that domestic workers, particularly in Nigeria, remained vulnerable and helpless, in view of the fact that they exist in the informal sector, not unionised and did not have collective platform to speak for them.

He further noted that on the other hand, there was rise in the spate of complicity of crimes committed by domestic workers, mostly in connivance with other criminal elements against their employers and hosts.

He said there was rise in cases of burglary, kidnapping, stealing of children and outright murder.

“Due to urbanisation, fast growing growing cities have put significant pressure on working class parents compelling many to spend more time at work and far less at home.

“The concomitant effect is that many families from the low, middle to the high income class have come to the inevitable reality of employing domestic workers to attend to their needs at home.

“A lot of the workers are unregistered and not supported by most national labour laws,” he said.

Contributing, the lawmaker said the bill was timely considering the spate of abuse of domestic workers and attacks by them on their employers.

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, put the bill to a voice vote and it was adopted.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to report back in four weeks.


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