KATHMANDU, Aug 7: The Nepali embassy in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh has halted the recruitment process of Nepali women in the so-called ‘supplies and contracting companies’ after its research revealed ‘grim condition of women working in such companies in Saudi Arabia.
The supplies and contracting companies are job placement agencies which supply workers to big and small employers.
The decision was taken after the embassy found that most of these agencies were found to have curtailed the basic rights of workers in violation of work contracts, the embassy said in a statement issued on Monday.
A survey conducted by the embassy found widespread exploitation of migrant women in blatant violations of contracts at around half-a-dozen companies in Saudi Arabia.
It was found that Nepali women working in these agencies were being paid far less than promised and denied workplace insurance and basic healthcare.
Many agencies were found to have handed over fake or forged work contracts, or forced the women to work for more than one employer including jobs not specified in the contract. The women also reported confiscation of their passport, restriction in mobility and outright threat and abuse from the agencies concerned.
“This is to inform that the embassy has decided to halt the verification of demand letter for recruitment of Nepali women in supplies and contracting companies keeping in view that more women were coming forward with complaints post survey,” reads the statement.
The existing recruitment process requires the embassy’s prior verification of job demand letters.
The decision, which comes in the backdrop of an existing ban on domestic workers, is expected to bring further decline in number of Nepali women going to the Islamic kingdom.
Gulf countries and Malaysia remain closed for domestic workers, mainly women, since Nepal, responding to growing cases of exploitation and abuse of Nepali women abroad, stopped issuing work permit to domestic help in July 2016.
A recent study by the National Human Rights Commission shows that the travel ban, instead of protecting women, was pushing them to the hands of human traffickers and agents.
The report states that Nepali migrant women, especially going to work as domestic workers were being taken to ‘the Gulf countries and even Iraq on visit visas or tourist visas via India or using setting at the Tribhuvan International Airport’.
An estimated 40,000 Nepali women are currently employed in Saudi Arabia.