Nepal bans women under 30 from working in Gulf

Himalayan country issues ban following reports of sexual, psychological abuse of workers
“Young female workers are reported to have been sexually and psychologically exploited in Gulf countries.”
By Claire Valdini
Tue 14 Aug 2012 11:47 AM

Nepal has banned women under the age of 30 from working as housemaids in the GCC, two years after the country lifted a ban on nationals taking up employment in domestic services in the Gulf states.

“Young female workers are reported to have been sexually and psychologically exploited in Gulf countries,” Raj Kishor Yadav, Information Minister told the Himalayan Times.

“So the cabinet decided to set the age bar for women migrant workers in the Gulf. Women above 30 years of age are at low risk of such exploitation,” he added.

Thousands of young Nepalese women leave the impoverished country every year to take up domestic and construction jobs in Gulf states. Officials in the Himalayan country lifted a 12-year ban on women being employed in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar in 2010, introduced after a domestic worker subjected to abuse in Kuwait committed suicide.

Despite the ban, several thousand Nepalese are thought to work in the Gulf illegally. Nepal authorities estimate around 160,000 workers live in the Gulf, compared to 125,000 in 2008. The majority are thought to be under the age of 25-years old.

The GCC relies heavily on foreign workers to fill jobs at all levels of the economy but protection of migrant workers has become a serious issue following reports of poor working conditions and low pay.

Saudi Arabia placed a ban on recruiting workers from the Philippines and Indonesia after those countries sought to impose stricter employment conditions.

The kingdom in April set a minimum wage of SAR600-800 (US$160-213) for foreign domestic workers in the Gulf state. Officials in the GCC’s largest country set the cost of recruitment fees at SAR15,000 - 17,000, local media reported citing Saad Al-Badah, chairman of the national recruitment committee at the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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