It’s my first day of volunteering with Kav LaOved, and I already saw many cases of women being abused by their employers.
- An Indian woman was beaten so severely by her employer that her vertebrae disk got dislocated. She can’t get compensated for it, because her employer is dead now.
- A Filipino woman was sexually harassed by her employer (being asked for sex, being groped and touched by him), but she can’t do anything about it because she is scared that she will lose her job.
I realized that many workers simply do not know their rights: for instance, their right to minimum wage, vacation days, annual recuperation pay, severance pay, notice of release prior to one-month dismissal, etc.
Many simply believe and trust what their employers say. For instance, one woman wanted to go back to the Philippines for vacation, but her employer says that she cannot because of the work contract (in reality, she has the right to take vacation or leave her job).
There is lack of services for migrant workers, especially women. Many do not have social workers who make monthly house visits (even though this is required by law), though this is especially important for domestic workers. They are often confined in their employers’ house for long periods, with no outside supervision over their working conditions.
Many do not have the family and friend support network to see them through these hard times; simply put, they are in isolation.
This shows the unequal power relation between the employers and the migrant workers. Because of the migrants’ low socio-economic status to begin with (that is why they are in Israel in the first place), they fear getting reprimanded by their employers whenever they complain about abusive workplace practices. Compound this to the migrants’ lack of knowledge of their rights, and you have an exploitative system.
Yet, they are so strong to overcome these struggles. They do everything out of love. Many of the women show me pictures of their loved ones back home – husbands, children, parents.
I feel privileged and grateful that I got to know these women. They are my role models for patience, perseverance, integrity, and love.