Nepal has banned women under the age of 30 from working in Persian Gulf nations amid increasing concerns over abuse and exploitation.
Nepalese women are among thousands of Asians who travel to the Middle East in search of employment. They often arrive willingly, but subsequently face conditions that the U.S. State Department says is indicative of forced labor -- the withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages for work up to 20 hours a day, threats, deprivation of food and sleep, and physical or sexual abuse.
The charge has been made by the Nepalese workers' union: 2,000 cases in Qatar, 4,000 in the Arab emirates and Malaysia. The foreign minister has asked his embassies to verify these cases, and stop conversions made by force or external pressure.
More and more Nepalese emigrants who have gone to Muslim majority countries to work - for example, on the Arabian Peninsula - are abandoning their Hindu religion and embracing Islam in order to improve their economic and social situation.
A Nepali worker who broke his leg at a worksite accident some 15 months ago, has been left without proper treatment as his employer failed to inform the police about the incident. The worker claimed that he was “warned by his company” not to inform the police about the accident that took place on June 20 last year.
The 39-year-old electrician met with the accident 32 days after his arrival in Qatar. He fractured his leg after falling from a ladder at the company’s worksite in Wakrah.
Increasing numbers of Nepalese workers are being deported merely for seeking payment of their outstanding wage arrears, Nepal’s ambassador has charged. Ambassador Surya Nath Mishra told Gulf Times that the issue was quite serious.
For instance, when a poor worker does not get paid, he comes under tremendous pressure from his family back home who depend on his meager monthly remittances.
Obviously, when the remittances stop, the family would starve and this makes the worker frustrated and tense.
Pushed to the wall, the worker would go up to the employer to seek the arrears.
Among the Nepali overseas workers who went to gulf countries to build their future, more than five hundred died in the year 2007 alone, news report said.
Most of the deaths occurred in traffic accidents, due to work place hazards, heart attacks or by committing suicide, rather than natural causes, the report said. The deaths mostly occurred in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
About 350 Nepalese expatriates, including a number of women, are stranded in Qatar after their employers have vanished following the completion of their project.
Speaking to Gulf Times yesterday, an official of the Nepalese embassy said the stranded workers belonged to a company which had its labour accommodation and some other offices in the Industrial Area. The company’s main office in the Industrial Area was reportedly shifted sometime last month to the Vegetable Market area.
The embassy of Nepal, with the support of community members, has rented a camp in the industrial area to accommodate stranded Nepalese workers.
Rajendra Pandey, Charge d' Affaires at the embassy told The Peninsula yesterday that the facility can accommodate 50 to 60 workers at one time. Workers facing distressful situations will be provided shelter in the camp until their problems are resolved or the authorities concerned take a final decision on their pending cases.