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Sri Lanka: Minimum Age for Migrant Domestic Workers Raised

(Jan. 27, 2011) In January 2011, the Cabinet of the Sri Lankan government approved a proposal to raise the minimum legal age of employment for migrant domestic workers from Sri Lanka, making it 21 rather than 18. The new standard was suggested by the Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Dilan Perera, to deal with the problem of young migrant workers being abused and exploited abroad. In many of the countries to which Sri Lankans migrate to take domestic service jobs there is no minimum legal age limit for employment of female workers; young women are considered especially likely to be abused by their employers. (Sri Lankan Government Sets Minimum Age Limit for Migrant Housemaids, COLOMBO PAGE (Jan. 26, 2011),

The number of complaints of abuse received by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment has been increasing in recent years. There were 5,796 such complaints in 2009 alone, largely from female employees; 40% of these came from workers who had migrated to Saudi Arabia. (Id.)