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Executive Summary for February 16th

In this week’s executive summary for Women’s Advancement Deeply: shocking cases of domestic worker abuse spark mass evacuation and calls for change, and a new study reveals the gender pay gap for India’s banking agents.

Published on Feb. 16, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Domestic Worker Deaths in Kuwait, Malaysia Spark Evacuations and Condemnation

The Philippines is evacuating thousands of workers from Kuwait after a young woman’s body was found stuffed into her employer’s freezer in Kuwait City.

In the wake of the death of Joanna Demafelis, 29, who had been missing for a year, 10,000 overseas foreign workers who have overstayed their visas could return to the Philippines on free flights provided by the government. There are currently 276,000 Filipino workers living and working in the small Gulf state.

The Philippines suspended overseas foreign workers from traveling to Kuwait in January following reports of widespread abuse. The Demafelis case has led the government to enact an outright ban.

Senators have called on Rodrigo Duterte’s government to provide job training for the returning workers, most of whom, the senators claim, will be women.

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old Indonesian domestic worker in Malaysia has died after being forced to sleep outside with her employer’s dog. Activists say the case is representative of widespread migrant worker abuse in the country.

Australian Unions Call for End to Diplomatic Immunity for Domestic Worker Abuse

In Australia, meanwhile, an investigation has found that domestic workers are being “treated like slaves” in the embassies in the capital city, Canberra. Their employers are covered by diplomatic immunity, which protects them from being investigated by the authorities for abusing staff.

Australia’s peak trade union body has called for diplomatic immunity to be lifted for diplomats who mistreat their staff.

The workers profiled by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation described being forced to work 18-hour days, unpaid, with no weekends or days off with only small sums being sent home to their families. One worker said she was banned from ever leaving the embassy. The embassies of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines were all alleged to have mistreated staff.

Women Bank Agents in India Work More for Lower Pay

One of the most important factors in getting women signed up for bank accounts in India is the ability to work with a female banking agent. Yet a study by consulting firm Microsave has found that women make up only 8 percent of digital agents across the country.

The study also found that women agents, who work as intermediaries for banks as part of India’s push for greater financial inclusion, earn less than their male counterparts, despite carrying out more transactions. The authors write that this is probably due to the fact that male agents are more likely to have other sources of income outside their work for the banking networks.

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