NEWS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING SOUTH ASIA IS A NATIONAL LEGAL RESARCH DESK – SHAKTI VAHINI INITIATIVE
By MD RASOOLDEEN | ARAB NEWS
Published: Dec 31, 2011 00:12 Updated: Dec 31, 2011 00:12
“This is a big challenge we are facing with the Nepalese housemaids working here, who were trafficked into Saudi Arabia through illegal channels,” Ambassador Udaya Raj Pandey told Arab News on Friday. The envoy was speaking to Arab News during a community function dubbed ‘Guru’ to mark the advent of the New Year. The event was spiced with cultural shows and provided a conducive platform for the Nepalese expatriates in the capital to meet and greet one another.
Pande explained that job agents from India go to Nepal and promise the women lucrative jobs in the Kingdom. They are brought to the Indian cities of Mumbai and Delhi for export for employment in households in Saudi Arabia, he added. Nepalese citizen do not require visas to enter India, he noted. These maids, he said, come to the Kingdom through these illegal channels and become victims of recruiting agents, who deploy the maids to various sponsors according to their whims and fancies.
“On investigation of a complaint made by a runaway housemaid for nonpayment of salaries for seven months, we found that the local agent had taken the money from the local sponsor in lieu of the maid’s hard work in the Kingdom,” Pande said. Another maid, Rita Pasi, 51, he said, was sent back by her sponsor to the agent in Riyadh, where she was raped and severely beaten by the money-minded agents.
The mission also detected another case of an Indian maid, Mina Rai, 31, who had come to the Kingdom on a fake Nepalese passport made by Indian agents, the envoy said. In October this year the Nepalese government lifted a three-year ban on sending maidservants to Gulf countries. The ambassador said that during the ban, these agents exploited the situation for their benefit at the cost of innocent maidservants.
The envoy said there is an estimated 70,000 Nepalese housemaids living in the Kingdom and most of them had come through these traffickers. “I am getting two to three runaway maids a day, who came here through these unscrupulous agents in India. There is a large number of runaway maid servants, currently sheltered by the mission. Besides these maids, he said, there are some 600,000 Nepalese male workers, who came through legal channels and are deployed in various sectors.
Ever since the ban was lifted, Pande said, his mission has been working on an ambitious plan to streamline the recruitment of maids from Nepal to Saudi Arabia. He explained that his government has stipulated a minimum monthly salary of SR800 plus SR200 for overtime work. He said the maidservants do not limit their work for eight hours. “We also want Saudi sponsors to offer maids air-conditioned rooms and provide them with insurance covers.”
The plan comes within the framework of an agreement with the Kingdom and other Gulf countries that will guarantee protection to the maids. Addressing his countrymen at the function, the envoy urged his community members to comply with the local customs and conventions. “Please don’t run away from your workplaces,” the ambassador told the Nepalese male workers, requesting them to contact the mission for advice and guidance to resolve their problems.
Most of the labor problems generate due to misunderstandings between the employer and the employee, Pande said, adding that the embassy can negotiate such problems looking after the interests of both parties.
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