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The Horrid Conditions of Nepalese Maids in Saudi Arabia

On October 6, 2009

The New Nation, a Bangladeshi papers, recently published a story about the conditions of Nepalese housemaids in the Gulf. The article features the stories of two women who worked in Saudi Arabia as maids. Because of reports of inhuman treatment of maids in the Gulf, in 1998 the Nepalese government imposed restrictions on women applying to work in the Gulf. And recently the government totally banned Nepalese women from working as housemaids in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Ramita Tamang, 31, worked as a maid in Jeddah City through grueling 20-hour work days. Tamang, who was in a dire financial state after she had used all her money trying to save her husband who was diagnosed with a fatal illness, decided to work abroad to earn for the education of her young children. Because of the restrictions by the government, Tamang turned to agents from outside the country to get into Saudi Arabia. The people bringing her to the kingdom had done so illegally, and when Tamang was discovered without the proper documents in Saudi Arabia, she was jailed for 22 days and then deported.

Another women interviewed, Meena B.K., 36, also found work in Jeddah City. She spent 10 months in the house of her sponsor, who abused and raped her. After she became pregnant, she finally managed to flee his house. As she ventured outside, she was caught without proper documentation. She was sent to jail and later released with the help of the Nepalese embassy, which also assisted her in getting an abortion after she was deported back to Nepal. Even more disturbing is the fact that both of these women did not get paid for their hard labor.

According to the Nepalese embassy in Saudi Arabia, maids who do not satisfy the needs of their employers are "sold" to other households and "a majority of these women are raped, sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and have endured inhumane behaviour."