Nepal lifts ban on women working in Gulf countries

Thousands of people leave impoverished Nepal every year to seek work abroad, mostly travelling to Malaysia and the Gulf to take up menial jobs in cleaning or construction.
Women have officially been barred from going to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar since 1998, when the suicide of a Nepalese domestic worker who had been abused in Kuwait created a national scandal.

But many do so anyway, usually travelling via neighbouring India to avoid detection, and ministry spokesman Purnachandra Bhattarai said the government would instead introduce new measures intended to protect them.

"Before they can recruit workers, employers will have to assure us they will provide insurance, accommodation, security and a basic wage," he said.

The guarantees will be monitored by Nepalese embassies, who will be responsible for defining a minimum wage for each country, Bhattarai said, without specifying how they would police employers abroad.

Thousands of poor women from South Asia and beyond are employed in wealthy Gulf countries, lured by the promise of better wages to help support their families back home.
But many face mistreatment and Maiti Nepal, an organisation that works to prevent the trafficking of Nepalese women abroad, condemned the government's decision.
"Without certain resources and processes, workers going to Gulf countries for domestic work will suffer exploitation and be deprived of their right to support during emergencies," it said in a statement.

There was an outcry in Sri Lanka in September when a maid returned from Saudi Arabia alleging that her employers had forced 24 nails and needles into her body.

In November the beaten body of an Indonesian maid, Kikim Komalasari, 36, was found near Abha in Saudi Arabia, and two people, her employers, have been arrested in connection with her death.

Comments (+)