Nepal’s August 2012 ban preventing women under 30 from working in Gulf countries is well-meaning but misguided, according to Caritas migration experts. The ban is intended to protect young women from suffering abuse while they work as maids in private homes. For years, Caritas has worked with survivors of such abuse. “We appreciate the government of Nepal’s concern for migrant domestic workers,” says Rupa Rai of Caritas Nepal. “But the problems women face in Gulf countries will not decrease because of this age bar.” Each year, hundreds of thousands of women leave Asian countries like Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines to work in Gulf countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Some are treated well, but others work long hours without being paid, often suffering beatings and sexual abuse. Instead of banning migration outright, countries should develop “better strategies to provide both safety and decent work for women,” says Rai. [...]
Caritas staff members and colleagues from six continents were in Rome for Caritas Internationalis governance meetings this week. They also had time to see a photo exhibit showcasing Caritas’ work to stop human trafficking and unsafe migration. The exhibit, hosted at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz and funded by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, featured images of young women in Nepal who are at risk of being trafficked. The photographs, which were taken by Katie Orlinsky, showed rural and urban scenes of women in Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest countries. Caritas members around the world work together to raise awareness of false job advertising and other tactics that traffickers use to lure women into unsafe situations.
In Asia’s slums or impoverished villages, women and teenage girls will listen when a well-dressed stranger offers them a job. In Nepal, a poor country on the northeast border with India, thousands of young women leave their homes in search of work abroad. Sometimes the jobs offered are legitimate—the women earn money and help their families. But sometimes they are sold by human traffickers and are forced to work for free. In the worst cases, they are beaten or forced into prostitution. Click on the photo to the left to see an audiovisual feature about the problem—and to find out what Caritas is doing to help. Photos by Katie Orlinsky or Laura Sheahen Audio by Laura Sheahen
What is human trafficking? Human trafficking is a crime in which traffickers deceive and recruit people, often across national borders, for the purpose of exploitation (forced labour, beggary, prostitution or removal of organs). Traffickers often lure impoverished victims with false promises of good jobs. When a person is working against their will, is not being paid, and is unable to leave--or if the conditions of their work are not regulated--they may be victims of trafficking. Where is Nepal and what is happening in Nepal? Nepal is an extremely poor country on the northeast border with India. Due to poverty and lack of jobs, many Nepali people consider working abroad to earn money for their families. What kinds of fake jobs are being offered? Unscrupulous employment agents in Nepal might offer teenage girls work as a housemaid, or offer to make them a movie star in India. Other agents offer men construction jobs in the [...]
Recently, a viral video showing the abuse of an Ethiopian migrant in Lebanon shocked those who saw it. The Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC) has worked with abused housemaids for years and sends us this timeline in the life of Alem, who was known to CLMC staff. By Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center Staff Like over 200,000 migrant women in Lebanon, Alem Dechasa-Desisa, a 33-year-old Ethiopian, made the difficult choice to leave her family and two children, and come to Lebanon as a housemaid to improve her family’s living conditions. Unlike many women who are able to realise this dream, Alem faced the harsh reality that some domestic migrant workers experience in Lebanon. In the video, Alem’s employment agent showed publically, in the streets of Beirut, the same treatment that some employers keep secret and hidden. Before LBCI news released the video on 8 March, the International Woman’s Day, the TV […]
It is 7:30pm, in Amatlan, in the province of Cordoba Veracruz. The train whistle blows in the distance. In Norma Romero Vazquez' kitchen, headquarters of the "Patronas ", women bustle about.. Carmen, 90, the oldest of the women in the family, takes a crate filled with bags of food. Along with her daughters and granddaughters, Carmen goes to the railway that passes about ten meters away from her house. Over a distance of a kilometer, the fifteen women share the crates out between themselves. When the light of the train appears, they get as close as possible to the tracks and stretch out their arms laden with food bags. "God bless you", cry the migrants aboard the goods train. In a few minutes, the train has gone. Back to Norma's kitchen. For over 15 years, Carmen, Norma and the others have been handing out food, clothing and medicines to the migrants on [...]
By Laura Sheahen, “When I got home, my family saw my condition and cried.” Twenty-four-year old Damber Kumari Gurung had left her village in Nepal for Saudi Arabia to work as a maid. More than a year later, she came back covered with bruises. She’d worked long hours in a private Saudi home, getting about four hours of sleep each night as she struggled to keep up with the cooking, cleaning and washing. The family she worked for rarely paid her, and when she asked for her salary, they sent her back to the employment agents in Riyadh. She can’t say exactly what happened next. She remembers fighting back when they tried to strip her, and ripping one of the agent’s shirts. When she arrived at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, she was black and blue. “I was crying bitterly. People surrounded me,” she says. A woman at the […]
When impoverished women decide to leave their countries to work abroad, they often are deceived or abused. Smugglers and human traffickers may exploit them, forcing them to work as unpaid prostitutes or beggars. Women who become domestic workers are sometimes beaten, overworked, or not paid. Many women leave behind their own families to care for others, making their children vulnerable. The Female Face of Migration, a report by Caritas Internationalis, describes the problems that migrant women face. Explore this page to learn more: read the policy paper, get to know to stories of four women, and play our interactive game “Follow the Migrant Woman” to see what choices you would make if you were a poor woman going abroad.