Abu Dhabi: The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has warned Indians not to come to the UAE on visit visa, bypassing Indian emigration rules. The warning comes after several women ended up in deep trouble in the past two years and the mission rescued them from the clutches of unscrupulous agents, a top embassy official told Gulf News.
India has banned emigration of housemaids under 30 and eligible women can leave the country on an employment visa only through the eMigrate system that ensures their welfare and protection.
Gulf News 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.
Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said: “All these women have come through with the help of illegal agents on visit visas to UAE. We have time and again advised our nationals not to come to UAE through the illegal agent route.”
“They were promised jobs but faced hardships here. We have initiated the process of their safe repatriation and are also informing the state authorities in India,” the ambassador said.
“We are also advising them to approach the law enforcement agencies in India so that action against illegal agents who had lured them to come to UAE, can be initiated,” Suri said.
But many Indian women, particularly those who are under 30, come on visit visas from different parts of the country and work as domestic helps in the UAE. This lands them in different kinds of problems, the official said.
So far, more than 400 domestic workers in distress have approached the embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai over the past two years on visit/tourist visas.
Smita Pant, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the women who come on visit visas to the UAE face huge troubles. They are denied wages, visa, health cards and proper meals. So they fled from their clutches and sought help from the mission. “Now the mission is repatriating them,” she said. “More than 400 such cases were handled by the Indian missions in past two years,” she added.
She asserted that emigration check required [ECR] passport holders shouldn’t come on visit visas for job searches.
“We are working with state governments in India too, to address the issues and take appropriate legal action against illegal agents to exploit these women and send on visit visas for employment,” Pant said.
Dimpal, 24, from the north Indian state of Punjab, landed in Dubai from Delhi on a one-month visit visa and was kept at an agent’s office in Sharjah without any job.
“I was forced to sleep on the floor. I came on July 6 and the next day they sent me to a house in Fujairah to work. The house has 22 rooms and 10 bathrooms, and I was alone there to clean it all. I had to work 16 hours a day and I was treated badly and gave little leftover and partially eaten meals,” she said.
She came on three months tourist visa and gave Rs22,000 [Dh1,173] to the agent. Upon entering the house, her luggage was inspected and she was restricted from stepping out of the villa. Her passport was taken by the agency.
“After one week, the house owner dropped me back to the agency saying he was not happy with her work. I told the agency that I wanted to go back to India but they asked me to pay Rs150,000. Then I went to the Indian Consulate in Dubai for help. Now I want to go back home,” Dimpal said.
Maryam, 38, from Andhra Pradesh, came to Al Ain and she worked for 10 months at a Dh1,000 salary. Her residency visa was not stamped and was forced stay illegally without even a health card.
“I insisted them to get me a residency visa but they denied and they dropped me in a park and fled.” She also sought the consulate’s help.
Simran, 22, from Firozpur District in the North Indian State of Punjab, who came on July 8 after paying Rs35,000. “In the apartment, I stayed there with 25 girls of different nationalities and if anyone protested, the agents harassed them and physically assault them. Even they roughed up a girl in front of me who wanted to go back. Seeing such horrific condition, I was so scared from daily tortures. So I decided to return home.”
In case of emergencies, Indians can call at the mission’s hotline number all week days around the clock 80046342.
UAE law protects domestic workers:
A UAE law stipulating working conditions for domestic workers, including a regular weekly day off, 30 days of paid annual leave and the right to retain personal documents, came into effect in 2017.
The new law provides for a daily rest of at least 12 hours — including at least eight consecutive hours.
The law promotes decent work conditions for domestic workers, including social protection and access to specialised tribunals at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and courts. It sets 18 years as a minimum age for a domestic worker, which is consistent with the international rules on elimination of child labour.
Placement agencies have to ensure that the domestic workers are informed of the terms and conditions of their employment such as the nature of work, the workplace, the remuneration and the period of daily and weekly rest as set out by the executive regulations before they cross their national borders.
The new centres, called Tadbeer, which will replace domestic worker recruitment agencies by the end of the year, will guarantee proper visa, orientation and training for the workers.