KATHMANDU, August 9: A parliamentary investigation has revealed that Nepali women are “being sold like goats” in Gulf countries after being taken to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait through illegal channels.
The investigation report, made public on Tuesday, further states that human traffickers have set up offices in the UAE and Kuwait for selling Nepali women as domestic workers and house maids across the Gulf countries.
“Human traffickers have set up offices at Ajman of the UAE and Kuwait city to supply Nepali women and sell them like goats as domestic workers. This has been learnt from the officials of the Nepali Embassy and representatives of the Nepali communities,” reads the finding of the field study report prepared by an eight-member parliamentary sub-committee.
The parliamentary panel has stated that the traffickers travel to the rural villages of the country to lure laywomen with good jobs and enough payment abroad and supply them to the Gulf on a visit visa.
The report has lambasted government agencies and officials and has accused them of not working in favor of the victims. The report has also pointed out the involvement of government officials and others in the trafficking.
Plight of domestic workers
The reported prepared after visiting four Gulf countries - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE -also highlights that Nepali women are being victimized of physical, mental and sexual violence and abuse. “It has been found that many women have become victims of physical, mental and sexual violence and are deprived of enough food and adequate shelter, barred from contacting their family members back home, and are not paid their salaries, apart from facing other various forms of torture,” reads the report.
The eight-member parliamentary probe panel found that Nepali women are taking shelter at the Nepali embassy with bruises resulting from the beatings from their employers.
“Assuring the victims of rescue from their abusing employers, some traffickers have been found to be selling and forcing them into prostitution,” reads the report. The report further states that some taxi drivers have also been found to be involved in the trafficking.
According to the report, some employers have abused Nepali women, misusing the sponsorship system, popularly known as Kafala in the Arab countries. “Nepali domestic workers are being abused by not being provided residency permit which is mandatory to be taken within three months, according to Kafala,” reads the report.
Likewise, the report has mentioned that about 90 percent of the Nepali migrant workers are forced to take a second work permit by decreasing the promised salary and other facilities.
Non-cooperative Nepali officials
The committee has questioned the ignorance of the Nepali officials about the complaints of the victimized Nepali migrant workers. “It is learnt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been helping human trafficking by hiding the complaints of the trafficked Nepali women and other migrant workers instead of forwarding them to the home ministry,” says the parliamentary panel's report.
Likewise, the report also states that the embassy officials have been found not taking any action against the agents and traffickers even after knowing about their activities in Gulf countries. The report has also insisted bilateral labor agreements with Arab countries for the job security and safety of Nepali workers.
Lawmakers accuse sub-committee of sparing manpower agencies
Meanwhile, lawmakers have questioned the report of the sub-committee for not mentioning the name of any manpower agency accused of wrongdoings by the victims. During the deliberation on the report on Tuesday, the lawmakers accused the sub-committee of sparing the manpower agencies. “It seems the committee was under pressure not to mention the name of any manpower agency involved in fraud and trafficking,” said lawmaker Prabha Devi Bajracharya. Other lawmakers such as Puskar Acharya, Durga Paudel, Dhan Maya BK, Chudamani BK, Bharat Khadka and Lal Babu Yadav demanded that the names of the manpower agencies involved in the wrongdoings be made public.
“The report has blamed the government for failing to protect its citizens but it doesn't speak about the wrongdoings of any manpower agency. This is suspicious,” said lawmaker Puskar Acharya.
The lawmakers also criticized the sub-committee for taking four months to submit the report.
The eight-member sub-committee led by the committee's former chairman Prabhu Sah, members Ashok Mandal, Prem Kishor Sah Teli, Binod Shrestha, Radha Devi Timilsina, Rajya Laxmi Shrestha, Lalita Kumari Regmi and joint secretary of the committee Jhalak Sapkota were involved in the investigation.