Kenya’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Mohamud, has recommended a total ban on sending female workers to the kingdom as a way of reducing incidents of mistreatment.
Mr Mohamud argued that the incidents remained isolated but said many of them were blown out of proportion by people who had been deported from the kingdom.
The envoy was responding to claims of torture by Kenyan domestic workers.
“Between January and August 2015, a total of 1125 Kenyans were deported. It is unfortunate that these returnees will claim all sorts of mistreatment including torture, denied food, held hostage, kept in concentration camps, modern-day slavery.
“In as much as there are some Saudi rogue employers who may have mistreated their workers, it is unfair to generalise and criminalise the Saudi nation as a whole.
“As a way forward, if there are no watertight protections of female workers to the kingdom, the government should ban exportation of female workers to the kingdom due to their vulnerability and strict conditions for women in the kingdom,” he said.
At the moment, only Kenya and Ethiopia export female labourers to Saudi Arabia.
Although Kenya stopped domestic workers from going to Saudi Arabia last year, many of those already there have claimed abuse from employers.
The Kenyan diplomat acknowledged that many of these cases resulted from workers being duped into thinking they were going to the United Arab Emirates or other friendlier countries only to land in the Saudi kingdom.
He said any future labourers should be recruited through a government agency.