A nonprofit organization working to improve foreign workers' rights has vehemently denounced the continuing Interior Ministry policy to deport any female migrant worker if they get pregnant and have a baby here, The Jerusalem Post heard Wednesday.
"It is impossible to understand why the Interior Ministry would behave in this way," blasted Hannah Zohar, director of Kav L'Oved (The Workers Help Line), charging that even after a legal petition from various rights groups last year, the ministry has indiscriminately enforced the rule.
"The Jewish state can't keep bringing in foreign workers to take care of their sick and elderly and then throwing them out when it does not suit them," she continued, adding "Women are not work tools. They are also people who want to work and sometimes have babies."
Zohar was speaking in response to a recent case of a foreign worker who was impregnated by an Israeli citizen two years ago and was given deportation orders last week, even though the family she works for is willing to support her and allow her to raise the child with them.
"All we ask is that in cases where the woman wants to stay here and the family is willing to support them, then they should be allowed to do so," said Zohar.
She added: "After all the equal rights women across the world have fought forâ€¦ to be allowed to work and have babiesâ€¦ this sets them back many years."
According to current regulations described on the Interior Ministry's Web site, migrant workers who give birth here are requested to leave the country with their baby no later than 14 weeks from the date of birth.
In the most pressing case to date, the worker, who asked not to be identified, said that she has no choice but to stay in Israel. Crying, she recounted how she is unable to return to her religiously observant family, which has rejected her for having a baby out of wedlock.
"I know I am not the only person in this situation," said the woman, who has since lost touch with the Israeli father of her child. "But I am really afraid that the government will kick me out and that I will be sent back to my country. My family knows about me but they don't talk to me anymore."
"It is very important that we raise awareness of such cases," said Zohar, who was behind the push last year to change the Interior Ministry's policy. "This particular case sums up all the issues faced by many foreign worker women; a woman should be allowed to be a woman and not be discriminated against in this way."
"However, this particular case is also unique because it involves an Israeli father, an employer who wants the worker to stay in the country, and a mother country where she will find no employment and get no support from her family," finished Zohar.
The worker and her employer have already petitioned the ministry to allow her to stay.
The Interior Ministry was not available for comment.