KATHMANDU, Feb12: A woman from Jhapa who reached Kuwait for foreign employment returned within four months. An agent close to her friend facilitated her journey to Kuwait, promising lucrative employment opportunities at a reputable company.
“After arriving at the airport in Kuwait, a Kuwaiti agent arrived to pick me up and escorted me to their office,” she said, “There were many women who were instructed to work in Kuwaiti households against the promise of providing lucrative jobs at reputed companies. After I reached there, all of my documents were seized. I also refused to work as a domestic worker. But, I was forced to work as a domestic worker.”
The victim woman stated that various agents have been actively deceiving Nepali women with false promises and forcing them into domestic work abroad. The Nepali women were sold as domestic workers by agents in Kuwait. The dream of the victim woman who went abroad with the hopes of providing higher education to her two children was shattered.
“My job was taking care of the children, washing clothes, cooking , cleaning the toilet, etc.,” she said, “There was no rest despite working for 18 to 19 hours a day. I could not protest in a foreign land. I received only one time-meal a day.”
She used to request the landlady day and night to send her back to Nepal . “The landlady used to give me mental torture. I was locked up at home for 12 days and forced to work. Then the landlady handed over me to the company,” she said.
According to her, she was not the only one who wanted to return home. “There were many other women who wanted to return home. We were not in a position to return to our country easily because the hiring companies have been paying a huge amount to the Nepali agents to bring us here. “The agent there asked me to provide Rs 500,000 as a condition to return home.”
She added, “I initially sought a cleaning job at a company in Kuwait. However, I was unable to afford the journey back home, so I felt compelled to work in the same agent’s office. The employers subjected us to physical abuse if we failed to comply with their demands. There were no mobile phones and documents with me. It was not possible to contact anyone for assistance.”
Despite her repeated requests to return back to Nepal, the employers ignored her. She said that after the agent asked her to provide with whatever money she could offer, she started searching for money.
She said that her elderly father in Nepal took a loan of Rs 200,000 and deposited it in the bank account of agent Jeevan Bishwakarma, but her attempts to return to Nepal were unsuccessful. Due to Bishwakarma’s failure to transfer the funds to the agent's office in Kuwait, she remained stranded and unable to return home.
She underwent further physical and mental torture while confined within the office premises. She stated that all other women had to transfer money from their home country to secure their release.
Describing the escape, she said, “It was night time and everyone was asleep. Seizing the opportunity under the pretext of going to the toilet, I managed to run away and reached the Nepali Embassy in Kuwait. With the assistance of the embassy staff, I returned home safely.”
Nepali women are suffering abroad because of false hopes of agents. With the scheme of free visa and free ticket, she went to Kuwait for a cleaning job at a company. But after not getting the job as expected, she returned to Nepal and lodged a complaint with the Human Trafficking Investigation Bureau.
She is just one among many such victims left by their husbands and facing challenges to look after their children. Therefore, such people choose to work abroad to support their families.
According to the data of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), the number of women who go abroad in search of employment has been increasing recently. Some of the women who went to Kuwait for foreign employment find themselves trapped as hostages, while others are compelled to return to their country due to unexpected circumstances.
Like her experience, many women have managed to return home after paying varying amounts ranging from Rs 135,000, Rs 230,000 and 150,000 at different times to the same agent office in Kuwait. It appears that agent Bishwakarma’s misconduct was not limited to the victim alone. She, along with other women, were recruited for the same company and the job in Kuwait..
SP Krishna Prasad Pangeni of Human Trafficking Investigation Bureau, said that uneducated women are more vulnerable to exploitation in the allure of foreign employment than those who are less educated. The number of women who use illegal routes and go abroad on tourist visas is increasing. “Especially there is high demand for Nepali women as domestic workers in the Gulf countries,” he said.
“Most of those who seek employment in this way are illiterate, victims of domestic violence, poor and have no access to other resources and opportunities. Such women do not have knowledge about safe migration while seeking foreign employment,” said SP Pangeni.
In the current fiscal year, 6,844 women have gone abroad for foreign employment in mid-December to mid-January, according to the DoFE.