HIV positive Ghanaian maid in Bahrain brought home
Manpower agencies should be held legally responsible for the health and quality of housemaids they bring to Bahrain, according to rights activists.
A change in the law would force them to ensure proper medical and background checks are taken before domestic helpers are brought here, says Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) action committee head Marietta Dias.
This would make agencies improve their selection criteria and thereby the quality of workers and liaise more closely with their counterparts abroad.
She was speaking after Ghanaian housemaid Suweiba Yousif, who was rescued from the streets by the GDN last month, was found to be HIV positive.
The 20-year-old finally flew home on Saturday, after her paperwork was completed and the agency that brought her paid for her ticket.
The GDN took Ms Yousif to hospital on November 24 after she was found injured and weeping on the steps of a mosque in Gudaibiya.
She was later discharged from Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) and was due to return to the streets with nowhere to go, when the MWPS agreed to take her under its wings.
Volunteers earlier described Ms Yousif, who has only ever been trained as a seamstress, as ‘incapable of working’ after she was put on anti-depressants.
“They have to have some sort of proper medical screening,” said Ms Dias.
“After spending days in hospital it was found that she was HIV positive.
“This could have had repercussions. She could have been working in a house and passed it on to someone.”
Ms Dias said someone must be held accountable for such cases, instead of agencies and sponsors blaming each other and leaving it to the MWPS to sort them out.
“Sponsors and agencies have to be more vigilant and have to ask the right questions before they bring people across,” she said.
“We have another Sri Lankan girl who is highly diabetic with high blood pressure and she cannot have got that since she came to Bahrain.”
Ms Dias said an example of how unprepared Ms Yousif had been for life in the Gulf was that she had never eaten rice and other food common in the Middle East.
She also praised the support of a number of well-wishers who came to the aid of the housemaid.
“The Ghanaian people rallied round and helped us a lot in dealing with their embassy in Saudi Arabia and talking to her,” said Ms Dias.
Ms Yousif, who is from the village of Tamale, came to Bahrain only a few weeks before she was found sobbing on the street.
She had run away from her sponsor after claiming she was denied medical treatment for her injuries. Ms Yousif had a bruised eye and a burn on her hand, which she said happened by accident.