A Filipina who fell four floors from a Manama building was trying to escape from a manpower agency's offices. Eight other maids were found huddled in the same office, sources revealed yesterday.
Rosila Trajia, 45, made a makeshift rope out of her own clothes to lower herself from the fourth-floor window of the Sami Manpower Agency, near the Concord International Hotel. But it came apart under her weight and she fell to the ground, where passers-by found her lying badly injured at around 12.15am on Monday. Sources said that she had tied her suitcase to the end of the makeshift rope and lowered it out of the window. She then climbed out of a sliding window and was trying to climb down when she fell. The other end of the makeshift rope was found tied to a table leg, said sources.
When police arrived at the single bedroom flat, they found eight Indonesian housemaids in the kitchen. "Some were sleeping, while some were sitting on the floor in the small kitchen," said the sources.
Ms Trajia suffered head and other injuries and was yesterday still on a ventilator in Salmaniya Medical Complex, where she was said to be stable after emergency surgery. Officials at the manpower agency were unavailable for comment yesterday. Sources said the maids were in transit, en route to employers. It is understood the agency is housed in what was designed as a one-bedroom flat. Police are reportedly investigating the incident. A report in yesterday's GDN that Ms Trajia fell from the Concord Hotel was incorrect.
It is absolutely disgraceful that, what I assume is, a legally registered "manpower agency" would lock up nine women in a one bedroom flat. It is disgraceful for anyone to do this, legally registered or not.
On a brighter not however, it is a relief to see that the authorities are taking steps to curb these hideous practices. Also from today's GDN:
Bahrain is stepping up a campaign to combat human trafficking. A special watchdog committee has been set up to study violence and other abuse against housemaids. Another has been formed to speed up the creation of a safe house for abused expatriate workers. Another panel has been set up to spread awareness of human trafficking and the need to combat it. A fourth committee has been set up to examine speeding up judicial procedures involving expatriates.
They were created at a meeting of a committee on combating human trafficking, which comprises representatives from the Cabinet, the Capital Governorate and the Foreign, Justice, Interior, Information and Labour and Social Affairs Ministries.
Although I am unconvinced right now that setting up these committees will do much to reduce the abuse of migrant workers, it is a step in the right direction. It is therefore important that we encourage moves such as this one, and this one, in the hope that it will add momentum to the movement for labour reforms in the future.