Nepal announced last week that it has placed a moratorium on domestic worker recruitment to Gulf countries. Authorities stated they need time to ensure a safe environment for workers. The over 200,000 Nepalese domestic workers currently working in the region will not be impacted by the move.
Officials also stated the ban would curb the high rates of undocumented migration of domestic workers to the Gulf, though previous bans have actually pushed women into these irregular routes, and potentially more vulnerable situations. Earlier this year, officials announced plans to lift the ban on domestic workers to the Gulf, noting that the “the ban had failed to discourage women from going abroad, exposing them to greater exploitation risk instead.” At least 100 women workers were going daily, many through India, during the ban.
Despite the negative impact on workers, origin governments often resort to bans because of the difficulty in negotiating fair treatment with Gulf countries; GCC countries typically respond to requests for better working conditions by threatening to hire domestic workers from “less-demanding” countries. Several other countries currently restrict migration of domestic workers to certain countries in Gulf, including the Philippines, Indonesia and Ethiopia.