Manpower agency shut for offering housemaid as prize
By Bahrain News
April 12, 2017

A MANPOWER agency has had its licence suspended after it offered a housemaid as a prize in a social media campaign, it has emerged.

The agency was found to be running an advertisement in Arabic on Instagram under the title, ‘Competition ahead of the month of Ramadan’.

Social media users were invited to share the post for a chance to “win an Ethiopian housemaid”.

This amounted to a suspected case of trafficking in people, said Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ausamah Al Absi.

“We have already suspended the licence of the agency, pending investigations,” he said.

“As part of social media scanning, our team found the agency was running a promotional advertisement online titled ‘Win a Domestic Worker’.

“They asked users to share their posts for a chance to win a housemaid.”

Mr Al Absi, who also heads the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Persons, directed the concerned departments to take immediate measures and summoned the agency’s owner for questioning.

“We found the advertisement extremely offensive, even if it was done with good intention.

“This is disrespectful to a nationality, occupation and gender.

“Even though it was poorly worded, people need to be sensitive.”

The agency, identified as Bahrain-based Al Hazeem Manpower, promised a housemaid to the winner provided he or she had all the necessary paperwork and permit to employ domestic help.

“We used the wrong wording for the campaign because of which our licence was suspended, but we immediately made the required changes,” said the Bahraini agency owner.

Mr Al Absi said it was unacceptable for recruitment agencies to “sell” housemaids as products or offer them as prizes on social media.

“We continue to monitor social media accounts of agencies and will take legal and administrative action in case of any violation.”

He also urged people to employ housemaids after ensuring they have completed all contractual obligations with licensed recruitment agencies – even those providing hourly domestic servant services across the country.

“There are many agencies who do not have licences and we will soon take action against them.

“LMRA will protect the rights of all workers and not hesitate to take necessary measures against any suspected case of trafficking in people.”

The GDN in September last year reported that a manpower agency came under fire for an online advertising campaign promoting special offers on foreign housemaids, specifically from Kenya and Ethiopia.

Bahrain-based Mpower Recruitment Solutions advertised one housemaid promotion as the “best offer this Eid”, while another of its adverts said “get your housemaid for as low as BD599”.

The adverts, which appeared on the company’s Facebook page, also offered “free two-year runaway insurance” which was criticised by activists for treating domestic workers like commodities.

The LMRA has posted on its website ( details of 133 registered recruitment agencies that meet its strict criteria to protect the rights of all parties including the employees.

The GDN yesterday found several Instagram accounts that have posted contact details of domestic workers from Asian countries with photographs of them on their arrival at Bahrain International Airport.

Some accounts also featured photographs of the housemaids of different nationalities with their resume, aimed at attracting families to employ them. - An African-American news and views website.
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