Category Archives: India

Migrant maids in Oman at risk as India scraps rescue scheme

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India’s decision to scrap a financial guarantee scheme for migrant domestic workers in Oman will make it harder for maids who are abused or unpaid to get home, campaigners said on Tuesday.

The Indian embassy in Oman issued a notice on Monday, saying it was scrapping the scheme because employers and recruitment agencies said it was discouraging them from hiring. Continue reading

Where dreams become mirage

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The story published in Samakalika Malayalam Weekly, belonging to The New Indian Express Group, portrays the sordid tales of Indian women domestic workers who were trafficked to Gulf countries and subjected to forced labour.

The story tells the sufferings of five domestic workers who suffered a lot in the foreign land and had to flee empty handed in fear of life. The story exposes the loop holes in the so-called tight rules ‘helping’ trafficking. It also shows how less women domestic workers are protected in a foreign country are.

PDF in Malayalam weekly can be downloaded here.

Saudi trafficking victim’s struggles continue even after escape

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After two years of hardship in Saudi, Joomaila Beevi returned to India empty handed. The 48-year-old widow now survives on what her aged parents and siblings earn.

When met Joomaila at her thatched-roof home in Kerala, she was getting ready to travel the northern part of the state to work as a midwife and earn some money for survival.

“Sometimes, they (the family) work and bring in food. And sometimes we all go to sleep hungry. I have lost everything… Before migrating to Saudi Arabia I at least had a rented house and a share of my father’s land. Now, there is nothing,”

“What’s left is a loan, debt, health issues and a daily struggle for food and medicines.”

Joomaila lost everything after fleeing an abusive employer in fear of her life and forfeiting her salary. Continue reading

‘No Food, No Pay’: 800 Indian Workers Stranded in Oman Tell All

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The workers have even written to the Indian embassy in Muscat. (Photo Courtesy: Rejimon Kuttapan)

After the 5 rials (around Rs 800) given by the Indian embassy on Tuesday to meet emergencies exhausts, we will be again in the same situation. No money even for emergencies. Uncertainty on what to do is haunting us a lot.

These were the words of around 800 Indian workers who are stranded in an industrial town in Oman, without proper food, drinking water, shelter and valid work permit cards for the last few weeks.

“We were not even having proper food for the last few weeks. It was stale food we were getting. There was no money to buy some drinking water too… We thought that we will die here,” a worker said.

“Now, the embassy has given us a little money. But after that what…,” the worker added. Continue reading

Sameera wants to return: In 6 audio clips, the story of an Indian worker trapped in Abu Dhabi

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A 27-year-old domestic worker, Sameera*, from Bengaluru, is stuck in Abu Dhabi after she escaped from an employer who is said to have been unbearably exploitative. On August 3, she somehow escaped the house, and reached the Embassy of India, UAE, Abu Dhabi.

But when officials there turned her away, she was caught by her recruiting agency. They locked her in a kitchen with four other women workers from the Philippines, Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Beaten, verbally abused and kept on camera surveillance for five days, the women were desperate to return home. Their only hope was a mobile phone Sameera had hidden in her handbag. From this, she sent a flurry of frantic voice messages on Whatsapp to two friends in Bengaluru – lawyer Darshana Mitra and social worker Kaveri Medappa. Continue reading

Kerala drama enthused by Bengali migrant worker

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Migration has not always been merely flocking of workers. There has been migration of art and culture too. Here in Kerala, the southern state in India, Subratho a migrant worker hailing from West Bengal has become an actor in theatre. Subratho has been working as a cook in Pattambi. Realising his penchant in acting an armature drama troop has handpicked   him. In a very short span Subratho has  become an actor.

Great migrant hope

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Indian migrant labourers in Jordon and other West Asian countries have little to hope for unless there is considerable labour reform.

For millions of Indians who travel to the Gulf and other West Asian countries for work, the kafala (sponsor) system is a known devil. As per the system, which operates right across the region, a worker is directly recruited and, subsequently, cared for entirely by his employer. On one hand, this system aids the migration process because once a worker is hired, all his costs for securing visa and other legal documentation, along with his living expenses, like food and accommodation, are paid for. As a result, from the 1960s onwards, there has been steady out-migration of job seekers, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled, from states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and now, from Goa and Uttar Pradesh as well. The spurt in expatriate workers to the Gulf rode the 1973 oil crisis, and rising oil prices.  But the kafala system is also riddled with corruption, abusive practices and extreme exploitation because it places the well-being of the worker entirely on the firm or individual employing him, without any proper checks and balances. Continue reading

For Assam worker, fear is the key in Kerala

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Kerala, as well as whole of India, was stunned after the brutal rape and murder of Dalit Law student Jisha who with her aged, sick mother had been living in a dilapidated hut on the outskirts of Perumbavoor town in Ernakulam district of Kerala. Her rape and murder resembled that of Delhi’s Nirbhaya. The ruling UDF front of that time was trounced in last assembly elections due to the protest wave which swept across the state. Finally, the accused Ameerul Islam, hailing from Nagaon district of Assam, was arrested from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Investigation is still going on in full swing. Kerala police team reached Assam and gathered clues about the criminal antecedents of the accused. Many migrated labourers, especially from Assam, were questioned by the police using third degree. Continue reading

Despite Jordan’s Efforts, There Is A Long Way To Go To Ensure Protection For Domestic Workers

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South Asian workers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working in Jordanian garment factories in Dhulail Industrial City. Courtesy: Rina Mukherji.

When Meilani Yuswandari, an Indonesian from Jakarta, completed her higher secondary education, she began looking for work abroad. During her search, Yuswandari met a recruiting agent who assured her of an office job in Jordan. But when she reached the country in 2011, she realised that the office job she was promised did not exist. Instead, her agent had found her a job as the domestic help of a large family, and she was forced into work she had not agreed to. Yuswandari had to cook, clean and manage all household chores, and was not allowed to leave the house under any circumstances. “The agent took away my passport and passed it on to my employer,” Yuswandari told me when I spoke to her last month. “When I asked for it, she”—her employer—“said she was keeping it safely for me. But eventually, she claimed to have lost it.” Continue reading