10 Dec 2010

Gulf work ban lifted by Nepal

1:22 pm on 10 December 2010

The ministry of employment in Nepal has lifted a ban on women going to Gulf countries to work and has introduced new rules designed to protect them.

The ban has been in force since 1998, when a Nepalese domestic worker who had been abused in Kuwait, committed suicide, creating a national scandal.

Women were from travelling to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

But many continue to travel to these countries to escape Nepal's poverty. Campaigners say most travel via India to avoid detection.

Insurance, accommodation, security and a basic wage now have to be guranteed in advance before wotrkers can be employed.

The BBC reports the guarantees would be monitored by Nepalese embassies, who would be responsible for defining a minimum wage for each country.

An estimated two million poor women from countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Nepal work in wealthy Gulf countries.

Many often face mistreatment and abuse at the hand of their employers.

Human Rights Watch says domestic workers in Kuwait filed over 10,000 complaints about their treatment with their embassies in 2009.

However, the Kuwaiti government denies any widespread abuse is taking place.