The Supreme Court has refused ‘leave to proceed’ by a migrant worker against a new rule where women seeking to work overseas as domestic workers are permitted based on the consent of their husbands.
When the fundamental rights petition came up recently, the court headed by Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, took the position that the rule was not gender discriminatory nor violated an individual’s human rights.
The court said that the rule was based on the protection of women and children as many women have faced problems overseas.
It was also pointed out that there is a new cabinet decision on an age requirement for women to seek work overseas as domestics.
The court also drew reference to the culture and tradition in Sri Lanka where the woman in the family is a strong binding force.
39 year-old Nilmini Kularathna from Sri Jayawardanepura, Kotte filed the FR case through her attorney Lakshan Dias saying the restriction was not only gender bias but violated her rights to equality under the Constitution.
She filed the application after she was informed by the employment agency that a letter of consent from the husband/family was required to take up overseas employment.
A circular dated June 6, 2013 from the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLFBE) refers to a mandatory requirement of obtaining a clearing certificate for domestic sector female workers preventing unqualified domestic housekeepers going abroad. “… all the licensed foreign employment agents are informed to get an assurance from such workers for a clearance of their state of affairs at home and for all other clearances. In such a case, if such issues are revealed after going abroad and request is made for repatriation, the local agent through which such an employee is recruited is responsible for repatriation of the employee at the cost of the local agent,” the circular said