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Nepal bans young women from working in the Gulf

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Aisha Farooq
WVoN co-editor

Last week, the Nepali government banned all women under 30 from seeking employment in the Gulf.

The decision was made following growing concerns that women were being mistreated and abused in domestic services.

Information minister, Raj Kishore Yadav said that young women were “sexually and psychologically exploited” in Gulf countries by their employers.

Bishwa Khadka, director of the organisation Maiti Nepal, which supports women migrant workers, said that the problems women faced were very severe.

“We have met several housemaids who were not only raped by their masters but also forced to have sex with the masters’ relatives. They are confined to the house and live in a situation akin to slavery,” she said.

However, not everyone is positive this ban will alleviate the issues Nepali women are facing on a daily basis.

Human Rights Watch, Nisha Varia said: “Imposing a ban on women under 30 from migrating to the Gulf fails to solve the underlying problem of how desperate women are for decent work.”

“Instead of a blanket ban on its own women that denies them important employment opportunities, Nepal’s government should work with other labour-sending governments to demand stronger protections for migrant workers in the Gulf,” Varia insisted.

According to government statistics, 58,000 women work in the Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Unofficially however, it is thought that this number is nearer to 200,000, as many women are working there illegally.

Most of these women are thought to be under 25.

Nepal had initially banned all women from working in the Gulf in 1998, following the suicide of a domestic servant in Kuwait.

The ban was lifted in 2010, only 18 months ago.

Nepali leaders are hopeful that by restricting the age at which women can work in these countries, the majority of employer abuse and violence can be curtailed.

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