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Abu Dhabi: Young Indian women are arriving in the UAE to work as domestic helps despite a ban on women younger than 30 by Indian government, a senior official told Gulf News.

An Indian woman, who was rescued by the local authorities in the capital last week, is the latest example, said Dinesh Kumar, the first secretary and counsellor of community affairs at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. “The woman from Bengaluru in Karnataka is 27-year-old and she came here on a tourist visa to work as a maid,” he said.

As Gulf News first reported on August 10, she arrived in the capital around two months ago. However, she was not satisfied with the working conditions at her employer’s home. Later local authorities had to rescue her from illegal detention.

An  embassy official  visited her at a government-run shelter home for women in  Abu Dhabi. “She is doing well and we are following up the case with the UAE authorities . She will be repatriated after the completion of legal procedures,” Kumar said. 

The official said around 15 to 20 maids visit the embassy every month, seeking shelter after getting into trouble. “Most of them come here on visit visa and some of them are below 30 years of age. Most of them are aged between 25 and 40, Kumar said.

India has stipulated the minimum age of 30 to avoid the possible exploitation of young women. “The older and matured women will be in a better position to handle such situations and job requirements,” he said.

However, unscrupulous agents who are not registered with the Indian government bring young women, bypassing the eMigrate system, India’s electronic system that controls emigration of ECR (Emigration Clearance Required) category passport holders, the official said. India issues ECR category passports to those who have not passed Grade 10 and hence they need emigration clearance before going to work in 18 ECR countries that include the Gulf nations. This rule was made applicable to qualified Indian nurses also when India banned their recruitment by private agents for overseas jobs since April 30, 2015.

A Government of India order on August 2, 2016, further extended the ban to all female workers including domestic workers and authorised seven official agencies for the recruitment of all female workers including nurses, Kumar said. None of the 1,200 registered private recruitment agents in India are authorised to recruit nurses and female workers under ECR category.

Mainly, companies depend on the seven authorised agents while individual employers in the UAE recruit maids through eMigrate system by registering themselves as a foreign employer. They have to make a refundable deposit of Dh9,200 at the Indian Embassy or Consulate, which will be refunded once the maid goes back without any complaints after the contractual term. Some employers depend on the illegal agents to save this amount, the official said.

The private agents also resort to this practice [bringing maids on visit/tourist visa], as they are not authorised to recruit female workers, he said. Then they change them into employment visa, which is legally possible at the moment, Kumar said.

He advised female job aspirants to strictly go through eMigrate system for their own protection. “We have database of all maids recruited through eMigrate. Therefore it is easy for us to help and support them as and when needed, “he said.