Nepal highlights ‘Gulf abuse’ problem
As daily reports of abused helpers and maids around the Gulf continue to pile on, Nepal has decided to impose a ban on their national women
August 12, 2012 1:45 by M. Aldalou
Nepal has followed in the footsteps of fellow Asian countries with the decision to place a ban on their women, those under the age of 30, from going to the Gulf for the purposes of work. Judging by this recent call, Kipp reckons that the epidemic of abuse of helpers in the Gulf has not yet been watered down.
Since 2010, Nepalese women have been allowed to go to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait after the authorities lifted a 12-year ban following the suicide of a Nepalese domestic worker who had been abused in Kuwait. This, of course, is not the first time an Asian country has put its foot down to dictate stricter rules for the sake of protecting its citizens from abuse in the GCC.
Approximately two years ago, Indonesia and the Philippines both sat down to seriously discuss the idea of permanently banning the recruitment of their nationals to the Gulf. This discussion came after reports of human rights violation and domestic abuse had reached a frightening level and the realization that the Gulf States do not have a strong social law of protection had hit.
At the time, The Philippines said that deploying their citizens again would only be permissible if the country has “existing labour and social laws protecting the rights of workers”. Since the discussions and lifting of the bans, Kipp optimistically thought that this issue had, at the very least, become diluted enough for Asian countries to rebuild their trust in the Gulf and for it to no longer be considered a regional epidemic.
But, given the recent announcement it is clear that strong doubts continue to gnaw at them and judging by the amount of abuse reports making national media headlines; Kipp cannot help but side with Nepal’s recent ruling.
The government estimates that between 20,000 and 70,000 Nepalese women are in Gulf countries, lured by the promise of better wages and lifestyle and that there are averagely three domestic helpers a week seeking refuge in Nepalese embassies in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The numbers of abused helpers are enough to scare any country into re-thinking its deployment policy.
While paper drafted agreements and laws may have satisfied the doubts of the Indonesian government, as well as tackled the issue on a macro scale, others admit that no country can completely guarantee the safety of their nationals so a complete ban might be more adequate.
On a micro level, what can any of the Gulf States do to convince Nepal and other Asian countries that the safety and well-being of their citizens will be ensured?