A recruitment agency in Bahrain that ran a competition on social media offering its followers the chance "to win an Ethiopian maid" during the month of Ramadan has had its licence suspended pending the outcome of an official probe, it has emerged.
Rights groups have repeatedly warned of the treatment of domestic workers – including large numbers of workers from Sub-Saharan Africa primarily from Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya – in Gulf countries.
The domestic employment agency, Al Hazeem Manpower, was investigated after it published a picture on its Facebook account in which it promised users: "During the month of Ramadan, follow and mention the Instagram account and win an Ethiopian maid", complete with "runaway" insurance (below).
In its ad, Al Hazeem Manpower outlined the one condition to designate a winner was that he, or she, had to have a work permit to employ a domestic worker.
Bahrain's Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) suspended the agency's licence while it investigates the competition that has been flagged for possible human trafficking.
Ausamah Al Absi, LMRA's chief executive, is quoted by Bahrain News agency as saying the recruitment agency treat their workers as "commodities", and slammed the campaign as "disrespectful" and "extremely offensive". The agency subsequently deleted the posts, but posted an edited version on Instagram (below) in which it removed the offer to "win a domestic worker" .
Responding to the claims, Al Hazeem Manpower, claimed it did nothing wrong except use the "wrong wording", and that they "immediately made the required changes" following the complaint.
Last month, footage emerged of a woman filming her Ethiopian maid falling from a seventh-floor window without attempting to help her. Kuwaiti authorities have opened an investigation.