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Nepal Struggling to Prevent Trafficking of Women to the Gulf

On November 30, 2009

The UN's IRIN News recently published a report about the difficulties Nepal's government is having with preventing its women from traveling to the Gulf to work there in the domestic labor sector. According to Nepali activists, there is a growing problem of trafficking of women to the Gulf region, and it has become increasingly difficult to stop this.

In 2007, Nepal passed the Foreign Employment Act, which forbids women from working overseas in informal sectors such as domestic service in countries that don't offer them adequate protection. However, Nepal has struggled to enforce its laws, since there are many poor and uneducated women who have to work abroad in order to support their families. To circumvent the ban, women cross the border to India with the help of traffickers, from where they fly to the Gulf. When the women arrive in the Gulf without a legal work contract, they are even more vulnerable to abuse since they can't turn to the police for help.

The report includes the stories of two women who were brought to the Gulf with the help of unscrupulous traffickers. Lalita Rai, 22, traveled to Kuwait with a promise to work in a beauty parlor a little over a year ago. Upon arrival, the trafficker took her passport and brought her to a house where she will be forced to work as a maid without any pay. Rai was physically abused and kept locked in the house until she managed to escape this October. Jamuna Chaudhary, 18, suffered a similar fate. She was brought to Abu Dhabi, and tricked into working as a maid. Chaudhary was sexually assaulted by her employer and his friend; she managed to escape and leave the country with the help of the Nepali embassy.