(AsiaNews) - The Nepali government has decided to ban Nepali women under 30
from travelling to Persian Gulf nations for employment. The announcement was made
yesterday. The decision comes after a string of cases of sexual abuse, mistreatment
and exploitation involving Nepali women in Arab countries.
February 2011, Nepal had lifted a 12-year ban on women migrating to the Middle
East. The embargo had been imposed following the suicide of Nepali domestic
worker in Kuwait in 1999. She had suffered repeatedly physical abuse at the
hands of her employer.
"The ban will continue
until we are assured that our workers are better protected in Gulf nations," Labour and Transport Management Ministry Secretary Purna
Chandra Bhattarai said. "The ban is meant to discourage women to move to these
countries and to protect our citizens in the Arab world."
four million Nepalis live and work abroad, 10 per cent of them women. According
to Nepali daily The Himalayan Time, most Nepali migrants prefer India
or Western countries. However, the economic crisis is driving more and more of them
to seek employment in Arab countries despite the risks and government bans.
Nepalis emigrate illegally. Some 20,000 to 70,000 live in Gulf States. According
to Nepal's Embassy in Qatar, between two and four women contact the embassy each
week for help. Many have escaped their employers seeking refuge in the embassy.
cases are in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait,
but Nepali women are mistreated in all Mideast countries. In Lebanon, 15
domestic workers committed suicide in 2010 as a result of sexual abuses.
Khadka, director of Maiti Nepal, an organisation that defends migrant women
workers, said that the situation in Arab countries is very critical, getting
worse each year.
have met several housemaids who were not only raped by their masters but also
forced to have sex with friends and the relatives of the masters," he said. Their
situation "is more critical than that of slaves. They are confined" and "most
of them are not paid".
women's groups note that the government ban applies only to women under the age
the government has no plan to stop human trafficking, which affects
disproportionately women, through the border with India where their movements
Arab countries, employers prefer to hire illegal or unregistered workers
because they are less likely to complain about abuses and mistreatment.
is not alone in reviewing its relations with Gulf States. The Philippines,
Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Kenya are doing the same.