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'Majority' of Gulf-returned Nepali women suffer mental health problems, says NGO

On January 24, 2014

As many as 80% of female Nepali migrants returning from the Gulf suffer from mental health problems, Kathmandu-based NGO Maiti Nepal has estimated.

This is understood to be the result of trauma and abuse at the hands of their employers during their time in the region.

Binita Shrestha, who runs Maiti Nepal's women's shelter, said:

“The reason behind the mental disorder by all of them is almost identical. They land in the Gulf unaware of their legal status. Then they realize that their agent had misled them and that they would not get the promised salary. On top of that they are treated in most inhuman manner by their employers.

“By the time they manage to free themselves from their workplace and come back to Nepal, they are so badly disturbed that they are hardly in condition to be positive toward life"

Shrestha was talking to Anjali Subedi, reporter at Nepali English-language daily Republica. You can read the full story here.

Researchers have noted that mental health problems are common among Nepali workers in the Gulf.  Anxiety and depression are occupational health risks for male migrant workers in the Middle East, according to Pratik Adhikari, a researcher at the University of Bournemouth in the UK His 2011 article in Health Science Journal  gives an overview of the situation, and concludes that not enough research has been carried out into the issue of migrant mental health.

A 2011 study by the Community Medicine Department of the UAE concluded that over 25% of migrant manual and construction workers in the country suffer from mental health problems. The study was based 318 responses to translated questionnaires distributed in labour camps.