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India moves to stop flow of housemaids to Saudi Arabia

Sushma Swaraj has ordered MEA to pursue the matter with the Saudi Foreign Ministry.  

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After an Indian domestic worker's hand was chopped by her Saudi employee and sex slavery, MEA looks for other options.

Alarmed by frequent allegations of sex slavery, arm-chopping and sadistic domestic torture of housemaids in Saudi Arabia, India is considering a total ban on recruitment of housemaids by that country.

This follows the >chopping of a domestic worker’s hand by her Saudi employer which India has described as “unacceptable.” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has also ordered the MEA to pursue the matter with the Saudi Foreign Ministry in Riyadh.

According to an MEA statement, the Indian Embassy in Riyadh has asked for ‘severe punishment’ for the employer who amputated Kasthuri Munirathinam of Vellore.

The idea of the ban was discussed by Ms. Swaraj at a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the Ministry of External Affairs on October 8.

“Sushmaji and we discussed how to stop the flow of housemaids from Tamil Nadu’s Vellore and West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, which top the list of regions producing housemaids for the Saudi kingdom,” said Rajya Sabha member D. Raja, who is a member of the committee.

Ms. Swaraj was informed that Saudi Arabia has refused to obey Indian laws on recruitment of manpower which are meant for 18 countries in West Asia and the South-East Asian region.

Environmentof impunity

Sources in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs have drawn attention to the fact that the latest incident of chopping an Indian domestic worker’s hand can be traced to the fact that the Saudi authorities themselves are facilitating an environment of impunity for the Foreign Employers (FEs) in Saudi territory who are forcing the recruitment agents of India to obey Saudi dictates neglecting Indian official procedures.

Saudi Arabia has refused to implement the $ 2,500 bank guarantee that the foreign employers are expected to deposit with the Embassy of India in Riyadh before approaching recruitment agents in India. The bank guarantee was planned as part of a recommendation of the inter-ministerial meeting held in June 2007.

More curiously, the Saudi authorities themselves have communicated to the Indian recruitment agents that they will be issued work visas only if they ensured that 25 per cent of their total recruits are housemaids from India.

Ms. Swaraj and the participants at the Consultative Committee meeting also discussed how best to ensure that the ban will not be violated by unscrupulous agents in India. The Saudi avoidance of the Indian rules can be explained by the fact that till date, they have more than 607 foreign employers registered who are freely violating norms of employing housemaids from India due to their government’s non-compliance with the rules laid down by India.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2017 4:34:15 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-moves-to-stop-flow-of-housemaids-to-saudi-arabia/article7744537.ece