Riyadh to slap ban on foreign maids

KATHMANDU: Saudi Arabia is planning

to ban foreign housemaids including Nepali ones, Arab News has reported.

There is a move on the part of Saudi authorities to stop housemaids coming from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam, it said citing Ali Al-Quraishi, vice-president of Saudi Arabia’s Labour Recruitment Committee.

Nepali authorities are not worried about the move. “It does not affect the Nepali labour market abroad,” said Uma Shankar Joshi, director of Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE). “As it is, we are not sending women workers to Saudi Arabia through official channel.”

However, the move will

directly hit Nepali women

going to Saudi Arabia through illegal channels.

It is believed that around 200,000 Nepali women are working abroad and that 90 per cent of them are in Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. Over 20,000 Nepali women are working in Saudi Arabia after having reached there through illegal channels via India. According to an estimate 30-40 Nepali women leave for Gulf countries from Delhi and Mumbai daily.

Saudi employers are planning to ban Nepali housemaids along with Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam because recruiters in those countries do not supply housemaids who can suit the local culture and traditions.”There is neither a proper selection process of housemaids to suit this market nor are they given orientation before they leave their countries,” said Al-Quraishi.

He said local employers have found that maids from these countries make no effort to adapt to local conditions. “They don’t show any inclination to cope with local traditions and culture,” he said. “We have decided to be extra-careful when dealing with such foreign labour, especially after reports that housemaids were involved in child murders and incidents of violence,” he added.

Competition in the foreign migrant domestic worker market comes from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia which cater to the top-end of the market while Nepali, Sri Lankan and other outsourcers provide for the bottom-end at salaries of around SR400 per month per housemaid.

The Nepal government has adopted ‘not-to-encourage’ policy of sending domestic workers to Gulf countries as those locations are not

deemed safe. DoFE is issuing employment permit to only those women who have guardians in Gulf countries. DoFE cannot encourage women to go to Gulf countries as Nepali women face the risk of domestic violence and even sexual abuse, said Joshi.