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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 14, 2016

The Right to Health: Sri Lankan Migrant Domestic Workers in the GCC

  • Elizabeth H. Shlala EMAIL logo and Hiranthi Jayaweera


Access to health care represents an important juncture between domestic labor migration and human rights in the GCC. The notions of “ambivalence” and legal hybridity shed light on how health care access is limited for migrant domestic workers, and why the legal framework is not enforced. Our research reveals that the lack of access to health care under the kafala, the labor sponsorship scheme organizing migration in the region, occurs at the household level given the private and dependent nature of domestic work. Ambivalence permeates the relationship between employer-sponsor and migrant domestic worker. In the liberalizing health care landscape, health insurance and health insurance cards issued, and held independently, by migrant domestic workers would allow domestic workers to access health care in the region with the critical support of the employer-sponsor.


The authors would like to thank the editors of MWJHR and two anonymous reviewers for their excellent insights and suggestions. Elizabeth Shlala would personally like to thank Lucy Veltri, Matthew Hinds and Federico Leo for their support and draft comments.


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Published Online: 2016-9-14
Published in Print: 2016-6-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

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