After all, for the wellbeing of the family it’s best that both parents are around to bring up their children. How can a mother raise her children by herself? It’s the father’s duty to protect his family. When the father is away the mother squanders the money he sends home on alcohol, and abuses her children because, hey, all women are wired that way!
Well, that’s what’s happening in Sri Lanka except it’s the mothers who are being banned from travelling abroad for work.
Earlier this month the government decided to gradually ban women from working as housemaids abroad given the abuse they experience in the Middle East and the social cost of leaving their children at home with their husbands.
Yes, there have been cases of gruesome abuse committed against the Sri Lankan housemaids by their employers in the Middle East. Yes, there have been incidents of abuse and incest in homes these women left behind to seek a better income than they could earn in Sri Lanka and provide for the family.
These cases are however fewer, than the number of success stories. The numbers of women who return to Sri Lanka with enough money buy a plot of land, build a house and provide a secure home for their family.
So many women have used part of their income as migrant workers to put their children through school, and some even to university. Tens of thousands have broken free from poverty, which they could not do if they only earned what is possible locally.
Providing these women with security mechanisms when they are abroad will be costly for the government but, it will be an investment. After all, foreign employment is one of Sri Lanka’s top income generators.
Banning women will have serious repercussions on rights and empowerment of women.
The government should provide them with jobs in Sri Lanka
To this we say, employment is a problem in Sri Lanka as it is. The brightest of young Sri Lankans who have graduated from local universities are demanding that the government provide them with employment because they can’t find jobs for themselves. Where does that leave women who have an education only up to their Ordinary Level, or even less?
They can work at garment factories, you say?
How many women do garment factories need? And housemaids can earn far more than a garment factory worker.
This type of ideology is quite damaging.
We do need to protect all our women, when they are in Sri Lanka and when they go to work overseas. Banning only women from going overseas as housemaids is not the answer. This calls for a measured, rights-based response from government and society.