Gulf countries are fast turning into destinations for women trafficking even though government policy does ‘not encourage’ women to seek jobs there.
Women and children are trafficked, especially for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and UAE. These facts were revealed even as Nepal marked the fourth National Day against Human Trafficking with the theme of ‘Let’s do away with gender-based violence and put an end to human trafficking’ today.
The Department of Foreign Employment says approximately three million Nepalis have migrated to countries other than India for work, both through regular and irregular channels.
According to ‘Trafficking in Persons Report 2010’, many Nepali migrants seek work as domestic help, construction workers, or other low-skilled jobs in gulf countries, Malaysia, Israel, South Korea, and Afghanistan through labor brokers and manpower agencies. They travel willingly, but subsequently face conditions of forced labor such as withholding of passports, restriction on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, deprivation of food and sleep, and physical or sexual abuse.
According to ‘ Migration of Nepalese Women to Gulf Countries : Exploitation and Implication on Health’, a report of Maiti Nepal, only 33 per cent women returned healthy from the Gulf. Of the 67 per cent who had medical problems, 57 per cent were diagnosed with some psychological illness or the other, two per cent were pregnant, four per cent had pulmonary tuberculosis, and four per cent had other minor problems. Among the psychologically affected cases, 50 per cent were cases of psychosis like Schizophrenia, ten per cent were manic, 20 per cent had depression, 13 per cent had depression along with psychosis, while seven per cent were anxiety cases.
“Women who arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) come penniless and fully traumatised because they are subjected to physical and mental exploitation,” said Nepal. He further informed that Maiti Nepal had set up a help desk at TIA to monitor women going to gulf countries.
According to recent studies carried out by UNIFEM and Nepal Institute of Development Studies, around 147,000 women are migrant workers among whom 90 per cent are in gulf countries. They are mainly employed as ‘house help’. The report said they are widely exploited and even sexually harassed. Most Nepali women go to gulf countries through human trafficking rackets because government policy does not encourage women to go there, stated the report.
Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare said the government is working to create awareness at the grassroots. According to data, around 10,000 to 12,000 cases of trafficking in persons are recorded every year in the country. India is still the primary destination for women traffickers, added Shrestha.
Source: Himalayan Times