Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Book
Title Access to Healthcare, Insurance Provision, and Health Status of Sri Lankan Migrant Domestic Workers
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Publisher Centre for Women's Research
URL https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/PR-2015-Health_Sri_Lankan_Migrant_Domestic_Workers1.pdf
Provisions to ensure access to healthcare are failing Sri Lankan women who migrate for domestic
work, both in their own countries and abroad. There are serious gaps and anomalies in relation to
health in the current Sri Lankan policy framework for migrant domestic workers. Power imbalances
between migrants and their employers create a massive obstacle to their ability to receive care and
to access justice in receiving countries.
Women domestic workers form around two fifths of total outgoing Sri Lankan migrant workers
annually, with nearly all going to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE),
Qatar, Lebanon, Bahrain and Oman. Despite family poverty being the main driver of their migration
and despite their low wages overseas, domestic workers’ remittances form a very significant part of
Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange earnings. While there is much documentation of the violations of
human rights and lack of labour rights of Sri Lankan overseas domestic workers, particularly in Gulf
States, relatively little attention has been paid so far to their health and barriers in access to
healthcare. This report examines the health experiences of Sri Lankan domestic workers throughout
the entire migration process. It includes the impact of the Sri Lankan labour migration governance
framework relevant to health, as well as the impact of receiving country policies and employer
practices on migrants’ access to healthcare and health status. The report makes recommendations
for improvements in both policy and practice that may lead to better health and realisation of
human rights for Sri Lankan migrant domestic workers.
Primary research was conducted through in-depth qualitative interviews with 40 returned migrants,
and 20 first time pre-departure migrants who had been through training, medical testing and
registration procedures. The participants were purposively selected in two districts in Sri Lanka,
Kalutara and Kurunegala, in which a significant number of migrant domestic workers originate.
Interviews were also undertaken with key stakeholders in national and local government in
Sri Lanka, recruitment agencies, medical testing centres, international organisations represented in
Sri Lanka, trade unions involving domestic workers, and civil society organisations working around
rights of migrant workers; and with labour migration and health experts in the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan
and Lebanon.

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