Authorities urged to check smuggling of female Nepali workersThe Nepali embassy in Riyadh has urged the concerned authorities to control smuggling of Nepali housemaids into the Gulf kingdom following what it calls “marked rise in the number of women” falling to various forms of exploitation at the hands of their employers.
The Nepali embassy in Riyadh has urged the concerned authorities to control smuggling of Nepali housemaids into the Gulf kingdom following what it calls “marked rise in the number of women” falling to various forms of exploitation at the hands of their employers.
The embassy said that at least 24 Nepali women are currently languishing in Saudi Arabia after escaping economic, sexual and psychological exploitation from their employers. Many of these women lack passport and money to buy an air ticket.
“Thirteen women are currently awaiting repatriation in the Housemaid Department and 11 others are taking shelter at the embassy’s safe house,” the Nepali mission in Riyadh said in a statement.
The embassy said that an increasing number of Nepali housemaids are being smuggled into Saudi Arabia through informal channel. An estimated 40,000 Nepali women are currently working in Saudi Arabia as housemaids. More than 90 percent of them are believed to have reached the country through informal channel.
Only 1,571 Nepali women acquired work permit from the Nepal’s Department of Foreign Employment to work in Saudi Arabia in the fiscal year 2015-16. In complaints lodged with the embassy, most of the women said that their employers confiscated their passports, denied payment or paid them poorly, abused them sexually while keeping them in captivity. Some said they were even denied food and water and were beaten up.
Ruprani Tamang of Sindhupalchok was repatriated last week with the help of the Nepali embassy. Tamang, who landed at the TIA on August 16, said that she was forced into slavery for four years.
“My employer did not pay me for all those years. I have had a terrible experience working with them,” said Tamang, a native of Gumba village that was devastated by the April 25 earthquake last year. Tamang had gone to the Gulf kingdom with the help of a village agent named Nima.
Puja Sunar of Bhalgaure, Banke, who returned Nepal on the same Air Arabia flight G9539 with Tamang, had also experienced similar ordeal for two years in the desert kingdom. Puja had gone to Saudi Arabia via New Delhi.
Embassy officials said that most of the smugglers are found to be using various Indian airports, while others had exploited security loopholes at the Tribhuvan International Airport. Currently, there is a temporary ban on Nepali women from going to the Gulf and Malaysia as housemaids. Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which introduced a new guideline on domestic workers last year, are working to lift the ban. They argue that the lifting of the ban would encourage prospective female migrant workers to follow the formal channel.
But the Nepali missions, including that in Saudi Arabia, have advised the government not to send women to work as housemaids without signing a labour agreement. They said that a seperate agreement on housemaid was necessary to bind the labour receiving countries to ensure all rights and facilities guaranteed by the work contracts.
They said that the guidelines enacted by the Nepal government will not make any difference unless the labour receiving countries agree to comply with the terms and conditions.