Abu Dhabi: The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has warned Indian housemaids not to come to UAE on visit visa, bypassing Indian emigration rules, as such women have ended up in deep trouble.
India has banned emigration of housemaids under 30 and even eligible women can leave the country on an employment visa only through eMigrate system that ensures their welfare and protection.
However, over 400 female domestic workers in distress approached the embassy in the capital and the consulate in Dubai during the past two years on visit/ tourist visa and all of them were sent back to India, the embassy officials told Gulf News on Tuesday.
On Monday, Gulf New came across four such women who approached the embassy for help after going through disturbing experiences at the hands of unscrupulous recruitment agents and employers.
R.A, 26, from the North Indian State of Punjab, said she landed in Dubai from Delhi on a one-month visit visa and was kept at an agent’s office in Sharjah for many days without any job. Her childhood friend working as a housemaid in Oman arranged the visa though an agent who did not take any money from her. She said she was lured by a Dh1,000 monthly salary as her Rs4,000 (Dh203) monthly earning as a farm worker was not enough to take care of her ailing husband and three children.
“The agent did not give me a job with a suitable employer, when I complained, he compelled me to do a ‘bad job’, and harassed me mentally and physically. Somehow I escaped from there,” she said in tears.
H.M, 21, from Hyderabad in Telangana, who reached Dubai in similar circumstances and was kept at an agent’s office in Al Ain for many days. She was sent to an employer in Abu Dhabi who harassed her mentally and physically. “When they complained, the agent also harassed me,” she said.
D.K, 45 from Punjab said she was witness to the harassment experienced by H.M. “I told them not to do so but there was no help.” They both escaped together one day with the help of a taxi driver.
S.V, 35, from Telangana said she was beaten up her employer who did not even pay her promised salary.
Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said the embassy has witnessed an increase in number of such cases over the last six or seven months.
“Many of these people originate from either Hyderabad or Amritsar [in Punjab] and we have written to the central authorities and state governments in this regard [to book the errant agents].”
He said individuals who don’t have the means to be tourists are coming on tourist visa and hope to get converted it into employment visa through one sponsor or another. They are at the mercy of their sponsors [or agents] and they run into difficulty. “We have come across cases of physical abuse and maltreatment. We want to bring these cases to local authorities, but unfortunately [in most cases] women are too traumatised or too afraid of the social repercussions for them.. they may have loss of face within their own families or society and they would rather quietly go back home without pressing any charges.”
The embassy gives emergency travel documents and flight tickets and sends them back safely.
He said a significant problem is with the recruitment agents in India, against whom the central and state governments are taking strict action. Regarding unscrupulous agents in the UAE, Suri said: “We have had a very active discussion with the UAE authorities who are very receptive to the concerns we shared with them. I am very hopeful, considering our very exceptional relationship with the UAE, and vast reservoir of good will and intrinsic decency of Emirati people, we will soon find a satisfactory resolution to this very disturbing problem.”