Kathmandu: Nepal has lifted a ban on women
travelling to Gulf countries to work and introduced new rules
designed to protect them, the employment ministry said on Thursday.
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