JHAPA, Feb 2: Many women who went for foreign employment to escape domestic violence back home are having an even worse fate abroad. Some of them were forced to return home after being victims of greater abuse and torture while others have remained out of contact with their families for a long time.
In Jhapa district, there are many women who fell victims to such circumstances abroad. The situation is not just limited to poor families. Women from even well-off families are also facing similar situations abroad, according to Radha Pradhan, chief of Women's Awareness Center in Jhapa.
“There are many women who went abroad for employment hoping to get rid of domestic violence back home but they faced harsher forms of violence there. The situation is so serious that it cringes even to think of their rehabilitation,” she said.
Among such women, one character is Gita Chaudhary (name changed) of Mechinagar of the district. As her two children were growing up, she was worried about their future. She had already decided that her situation would not help her secure a bright future for her children.
Her husband was an alcoholic who beat them whenever he got drunk. Eventually, she decided to go abroad for work to escape the domestic abuse and also become financially independent. She reached Kuwait as a household maid with dreams of a better future.
The situation quickly went bad. A son of Gita's master raped her time and again. During the course, she got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Her family did not accept her when she returned. She then stayed alone to raise her new born daughter. But she always carried a constant fear of social violence as society had rejected her.
“Instead of consoling the victims, many people in our society question their ethics and character, adding fuel to fire,” added Pradhan, who has been working for abused women for a long time.
Sharmila Magar of Bahundangi in Jhapa has remained out of contact with her family for over 18 years. She had married a farmer in the village and was raising three children. She eventually got fed up with her life due to domestic violence. She then opted for foreign employment. Sharmila has remained out of contact ever since.
It has been so long that her mother Dil Maya, 69, could not even remember which country she went to. “Kuwait or Saudi, I'm not sure. I forgot already,” she said. Sharmila's whereabouts is still unknown today although almost two decades have passed.
Not just unemployed housewives victimized by domestic abuse; even educated women going for foreign employment suffer from similar fates, according to social activists. Mani Kumar Limbu, who has been advocating against women and children abuse, said the government should play an active role to ensure safe foreign employment.
“There is an urgent need for awareness and implementation of existing laws to minimize such incidents. The local government should make these issues their priority,” said Limbu.