Domestic workers in Gulf states risk jail and “being sold like products in a retail shop”

A woman protests in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Colombo, against the torture of a Sri Lankan maid. (REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

A government minister in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has appealed for help for women domestic workers in the Gulf states, imprisoned after attempting to flee abusive employers or having overstayed their visas.

In a letter to foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, the state’s minister for non-resident Indian welfare, Palle Raghunatha Reddy, sought assistance for the women with travel and visa documents as well as food, clothing and shelter.

The women had left their villages to take up employment in the six Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman, tripling their local incomes but placing themselves in the hands of often unscrupulous recruitment agents. Reddy said the women were “being sold like products in a retail shop,” adding that at least 25 women had recently sought help from the state government.

It is not known exactly how many migrants are stranded in Gulf countries, but the number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands, many of them in jail.

Read the full story at NDTV.


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