Despite Ban, Indonesian Women Heading for Middle East

Indonesian women have not been convinced that working as domestic help in Middle Eastern countries is a bad idea, and are defying their county’s ban on travel to these countries in large numbers.

In response to several high-profile cases of Indonesian women subjected to abuse in Gulf states, Indonesia enacted a ban on women traveling to these countries for employment as maids. Nevertheless, convinced that their chances for a better life are improved in the Middle East, Indonesian women continue to travel there to pursue improved quality of life.

A total of 1,020 women were interviewed at Jakarta’s main airport between March 2015 and May 2016 who said they were traveling abroad for the first time to seek employment as maids. About 90 percent were heading to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. The remaining 10 percent were going to Malaysia, which is not banned.

“This is a very high number. The moratorium exists only on paper,” said Migrant Care‘s executive director Anis Hidayah.

“In Indonesia, we have limited job opportunities. Going abroad is one alternative, especially for women, because wages are so low here,” she added.