‘Nepalese lured to Gulf subject to forced labour’
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 23:22
Kathmandu: Nepalese workers lured abroad in search of better livelihood in various Gulf states have been subject to forced labour and sexual exploitation, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a key report.

The report entitled, ?False Promises: Exploitation and forced labour of Nepalese migrant workers", prepared by Amnesty highlights the fate of prospective migrants who take large loans to pay recruitment fees to secure a job overseas, unaware that recruitment agencies are deceiving them about the work, pay and conditions they are signing up to.

It states that every year over 300,000 Nepalese, including women move to various countries, mostly in the Gulf region and Malaysia for employment.

However, recruitment agencies subject them to forced labour on the pretext of false job promises.

The workers take out large loans to pay recruiters to secure a job overseas "unaware that they are deceiving them about the work, pay and conditions they are signing up to."

AI has asked the Nepal government to improve protection of its migrant workers.

During an interview conducted by AI with around 150 migrant workers, it was found that 90 per cent had been deceived by recruitment agencies regarding their employment contract.

"Some had to work without rest days, in dangerous conditions, or received salaries of less than half of what was promised," the report said.

"Nepalese people seek a better life abroad but fail before they even leave home, as recruitment agents - who earn huge profits - deceive them regarding their terms of contract, which is a key element in trafficking, said Norma Kang Muico, Amnesty International’s Researcher for Asia-Pacific Migrants’ Rights.

“By the time they find out the true nature of their work, many are already trapped, saddled with large loans from private lenders with annual interest rates of up to 60 per cent."

Recruitment agencies charge an average 100,000 Nepalese rupees or USD 1,400 for their services, three times the average annual income of Nepalese, the report states.

Nepalese women face restrictions to working abroad which increase their vulnerability, the report said.

AI interviewed migrant domestics who had worked 21 hours per day, were not allowed to leave the house and were sexually abused by their employers, according to the report.

"The Government must end discriminatory practices that force women migrants underground and leave them at greater risk of exploitation, without the protections available to regular migrants,” said Norma Kang Muico.

Nepal’s foreign exchange earnings largely dependent on remittance received from migrant workers, as nearly 20 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010-11 came from remittances from migrants, according to the report.


First Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 23:22

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