Psychosocial Experiences of Ethiopian Women Domestic Workers in the Middle East: The Case of Returnee Migrants in Addis Ababa

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Addis Ababa University


The current study explored the overall psychosocial experiences of Ethiopian women domestic workers in the Middle East. Specifically, Ethiopian women‟s psychosocial experiences and the difficulties they face while they were in the Middle East, as well as the change they have brought in their life after their return was explored in depth. The study employed a qualitative research design and a descriptive case study analytical approach. In this study, both primary data sources and secondary data sources were used. For primary data, qualitative in depth interview with returnees and key informants were conducted. The collected data were analyzed using a qualitative data analysis technique. The findings from this study show that, prior to their departure to the Middle East countries; all the informants were living in poverty and were unemployed. They immigrated out to the Middle East countries hoping that their life would change. However, their expectation was shattered because of the harsh experience they had at the destination country. According to the informants, prolonged working hour due to extreme workload, emotional abuse, sexual harassment and denial of their monthly wage were some of the negative psychosocial experiences while working as a house maid in the Middle East. Furthermore, they experienced loneliness and the feeling of inferiority, humiliation, degradation and maltreatment which was worsened by the language barrier they had. As a result, they described their stay in the Middle East very challenging. In general, the overall unfavorable living condition and the hostile working environment in the country of destination made them unable to change their own and their family‟s life and ended in being incompetent in achieving their goals and expectations. Their reaction to their failed expectations and the ill treatment they had in the Middle East has created a huge distortion in their overall social and economic life after they are back in the country of origin. They have developed the feeling of hopelessness; they are mostly depressed and lonely. Hence, based on the findings, this study suggests, the government of Ethiopia should play a great role creating a favorable working condition in the country of destination through strong consular relations, migrants should be aware of the socio economic situation of the country and the culture and a minimum educational level needs to be set for migrants in order to enhance their understanding of situations they will be facing and they should be well equipped with the necessary skills and qualifications and organizations that are working with returnee migrants should work together with donor organizations so that they are more capable in providing rehabilitation treatment and psychosocial support. Having this in mind, social workers should play a great role in advocating better living condition for the migrants in the country of destination and they should involve in the rehabilitation and treatment of the returnee migrants as facilitator or counselor role



Psychosocial; Domestic work; Depression; Forced Labor and Migration