Migrant Domestic Workers in the GCC: Negotiating Contested Politics and Contradictory Policies

  • S. Irudaya Rajan
  • Jolin Joseph


Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries together host among the largest global contingents of migrant domestic workers. Much of this labour force is composed of women migrating from South and Southeast Asia. This chapter details a number of distinctive characteristics and challenges of Asian domestic work migration and their implications for governance and protection. The first section examines the over-reliance on Asian female domestics across the Gulf states, pointing to entrenched social norms that sustain the demand for and division of labour along ethnic and gender lines. The second section considers ambiguities in legislative frameworks of labour-sending and receiving countries, tracing conflicting policy rhetoric and uneven outcomes. The paper concludes by emphasizing the need for transnational policy coordination that builds on local partnerships and regional collaboration to enhance inclusive, gender-sensitive labour migration infrastructure.



This chapter builds on earlier published work by the authors. See Rajan and Joseph (2015). Migrant women at the discourse–policy nexus: Indian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. In S. Irudaya Rajan (ed.) India Migration Report 2015. Routledge, India.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Irudaya Rajan
    • 1
  • Jolin Joseph
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Development StudiesThiruvananthapuramIndia
  2. 2.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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