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Posted On: 30 March 2011 10:22 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:11 pm

House helps hit family ties, says five-yr plan

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DOHA: Qatar plans to reduce the average number of domestic helps per household by half by 2016 since the heavy dependence on foreign domestic workers is weakening family ties and affecting the well being of children, according to the country’s five-year plan launched on Monday. The government will also devise a set of regulations to better manage the recruitment and employment of domestic helps. This will be supported by new legislation covering the legal rights of domestic workers. The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 has shown grave concern over the expanded role of domestic helps in Qatari households, particularly those engaged in child care. “Most (domestic workers) have limited education and difficulties communicating in Arabic. Heavy dependence on domestic helps is leading to weakened family ties, affecting traditional family values and child well being. This reality raises three key impact concerns: weakened bonds between parent and child, adverse impact on child safety and development, and negative effects on Qatari heritage and culture,” said the five-year plan document. To address this problem, the government will strengthen parental roles through a social programme intended to change attitudes and strengthen parent-child relationships. In addition, home science courses will be included in the school curriculum. These courses will extend beyond the instruction of chores such as cooking and sewing; they will also teach children how to share family responsibilities and how to properly look after their family and homes. “Inclusion of domestic workers into national labour laws is already being explored in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Stronger regulations will improve the relationship between the family and domestic helpers, particularly in relation to clearer demarcation of responsibilities and duties,” said the report. The government will establish a support centre for domestic workers, including an office and helpline to report abuse and exploitation. An induction programme intended to educate domestic workers on Qatari culture will provide additional support to domestic helps. The five-year plan also targets to reduce domestic violence in the country by establishing a comprehensive protection system that ensures privacy, protection and support for victims as well as anyone reporting violent incidents. The country will criminalise domestic violence, establish help centres for victims and streamline data collection methods. An early detection mechanism for child abuse and neglect will be implemented in schools. “Since 2004, Qatar has seen a significant jump in the number incidents of domestic violence against women and children. Such violence has devastating consequences not only for the victims but also for society as a whole” said the report. “Domestic violence is currently not classified as an offence under criminal law, although there is a range of legislation that does not condone violence against women and children.” The report has identified two primary challenges in reducing domestic violence: the lack of a systematic data collection system and incomplete investigations of suspected cases of abuse or neglect. Formal reporting of violence in the family is culturally unacceptable, and victims tend not to report because of the fear of shame in a relatively small society. Additionally, a lack of awareness of rights often prevents family members from disclosing violence or seeking help. There is also fear of repercussions in terms of the social, legal and political consequences for victims and their families. The Peninsula