What We Stand For

Stranded, sick and stashed into Middle-Eastern detention centers, African migrant women domestic workers’ suffering has been pushed to a deadly limit, in the midst of the corona virus pandemic.

Desparately waiting and hoping for a possible emergency rescue back to the homelands they once fled to seek greener pastures, an Amazon best seller: “Deadly Work or Decent Work?” unmasks the 21st century slave-like employment system, kafala.

Some hopeful migrant domestic workers are rudely awakened to their new reality of violence, sexual harassment and abuses, and sometimes deadly working conditions, upon arrival in some of the Middle Eastern countries, where this seventy year old archaic employment system is still practiced.

The alarming must-read book is authored by Her Excellency Rev. Dr. A. K. Ocansey, a world renowned Labour Migration Expert. Her Excellency is the founder of the Nekotech Center for Labour Migration Diplomacy and represents the Diaspora African Forum (DAF) on the African Union Labour Migration Advisory Committe, which advises African Governments on Labour Migration policies.

She is a USA trained Engineer from Rutgers University, a theologian, philanthropist, human rights activist and peace advocate, who has has been engaged in championing petitions for the abolishment of the globally criticized kafala.

The riveting book has a shocking “Hall of Appeal to Stop Kafala”. A few of the cases include:

  • The late Faustina Tay – a Ghanaian domestic worker in Lebanon, who was found dead in the car park of her employer’s building after reports of rape.
  • Zamzam Abdullah Boric of Ethiopia, who was executed in Saudi Arabia.
  • Mary Kibwana Kamajo of Kenya, who was set ablaze by her employer in Jordan and subsequently died from the burns.

In addition, seized passports, no rest days and decapitations have become unpleasant trademarks for a good number of domestic
worker jobs.

Sadly, some Middle Eastern labour law reforms, traditionally omit domestic workers, who are caught between a rock and a hard place, with a choice of extreme poverty in Africa or migration to a likely abusive Middle Eastern job.

As Asian countries have insisted on better worker conditions, some Middle-Eastern receiving countries have chosen to replace Asian workers with African workers.

Plagued with high youth unemployment, some African Governments have signed Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs) with Middle Eastern countries feeling fully secure that the BLAs will facilitate decent work for their citizens overseas.

Unfortunately, contrary to their expectations, the last five years have been inundated with constant outcries of labour migration abuses of domestic workers – which is due to a greater degree to illegal migration, as well as to a lesser degree, some of those who were legally recruited into Kafala.

African leaders have had to subsequently impose labour migration bans to the Middle East.

Upon modifying the (BLAs), many have lifted the bans and sent domestic workers back to the Middle East “with better protection clauses” in the BLAs.

But still, though some of the abuses have been reduced, they have not stopped!

Neither are bans the answer, as banning legal migration opens the doors to the more dangerous illegal migration!
So, now what?

A domestic worker behind bars

Stranded African migrant domestic workers in Lebanon detention center awaiting rescue during Covid19.

Nekotech Decent Work Wheel

“Deadly Work or Decent Work?”, subtitled SOS! Africa-Middle East Domestic Workers’ Migration Process, provides winning strategic solutions with ten keys to an effective Africa-Middle East Domestic Worker migration process, culturally depicted with African Adinkra (goodbye) symbols. These symbols are in honor of those migrant domestic workers who have passed away while working in deadly jobs.

H.E. Rev. Dr. A. K. Ocansey was uniquely positioned, through her 2011 music video: “Ratify C189”, to campaign for the ratification of the United Nations’ International Labour
Organization’s (ILO) Convention 189, for Decent Work for Domestic Workers. She also hosted a very popular weekly radio show in 2012: “Travelling Overseas God’s Way,” to promote legal migration.

No longer able to stomach the continued injustices against migrant African women Domestic Workers, Dr. Ocansey says: “God in His sore displeasure, caused the birth of this
life-saving book”.

The book’s mandate is to serve as a voice for domestic workers, a roadmap to Decent Work for African leaders and an appeal to Middle Eastern leaders to abolish Kafala and to establish reformed employment systems for decent work for Domestic Workers – who are now part of the frontline workers of the COVID-19 era and beyond.

Fortunately, not all migrant domestic workers experience gloom and doom! Some enjoy kind hearted employers who pay them well and provide them with decent jobs, even within kafala.

“Deadly Work or Decent Work?” demystifies Middle Eastern Employment systems to point African leaders to four viable newly reformed systems to choose from and to completely shun
all “direct to home” systems and all slave-like migrant employment systems, particularly, kafala, even with a BLA.

Standing on the shoulders of the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration, Asian-Middle Eastern migration processes such as the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, this book advocates for the accelerated formulation of a dedicated multilateral platform of Middle Eastern and African countries for joint consultations to develop an acceptable labour migration framework for Decent Work.

There are recommendations for reformed labour laws that will provide implemented protection with oversight from African Labour Attaches to be stationed in the Middle East, with enforceable
penalties for violators – instituted by the receiving countries, to the mutual benefit of Africa and the Middle East.

This book makes it clear that the shift from deadly to decent work for African domestic workers in the Middle-East is possible!