Fred Itua, Abuja
Senator Magnus Abe, representing Rivers South East, has expressed optimism that the passage of an Act to Provide for the Documentation and Protection of Domestic Workers and their employers, by the National Assembly, will stop incidents of assaults and abuse of workers in the country.
The bill, which passed Second Reading in the Senate, on Wednesday, was sponsored by the senator.
He said the bill does not only seek to protect the domestic workers, it will also protect employers of domestic workers.
The bill specifically wants the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to provide documentation and protection of domestic workers and employers of domestic workers in the country as a means of identification and numeration.
Senator Abe, in his lead debate, noted that over the years, the country has experienced an increase in the incidents of assaults and abuse of domestic workers by their employers or host. These abuses, he said, bother on slave labour, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
“The stories are gory, traumatic and mind bugling, especially against the background that these domestic workers exist in the informal sector, are not unionized and do not have a collective platform to speak for themselves therefore remain ostensibly vulnerable and helpless.”
The lawmaker said on the other side of the coin, is rise in the spate of complicity of crimes committed by domestic workers, mostly in connivance with other criminal elements of society, against their employers or host.
“These bother on burglary, kidnapping, stealing of children, and outright murder,” he said.
On the background of the bill, Abe noted that due to urbanisation, fast growing cities with chaotic traffic, such as Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja, Kano and other cities have put significant pressure on working class parents of different categories of the society compelling many to spend more time at work places and far less at home.
The effect, he said, “is that many families, from the low, middle, to the high-income class have come to the inevitable reality of the necessity of employing domestic workers to attend to their needs at home.”