Health and welfare of Nepali female returnees from Gulf countries: A mixed-methods study
Authors: Simkhada, P.P., Van Teijlingen, E., Gurung, M. and Yadav, U.
Conference: 13th Annual BNAC Conference
Dates: 16-17 April 2015
Nepal is one of the largest suppliers of labour to Gulf countries where there is a demand for cheap and low skilled workers. This migration has increased significantly in the past years. However, there has not been a study on the experiences of Nepali women migrants. This paper explores health problems and exploitation experienced by Nepalese women migrants in Gulf countries. We conducted qualitative interviews with rescued women migrants (n=16) and policy-makers and 15 people working in migration-related organisations in Nepal. Quantitative data was collected for 1052 returned/rescued migrant women from the records of an organisation working for migrants. Female migrant workers were generally young (below 30 years) and married with low education status (primary education only). Having a large family (many children) was a push factor for women seeking foreign jobs. Most had stereotypical female jobs such as babysitting, washing dishes and clothes, and other household jobs. Most had received less money than originally promised. Often women were not permitted to interact with people outside the household or even beyond the boundaries of the house in which they worked. Bonded working conditions was one reason why many tried to escape from the Gulf. Two-thirds were rescued by Nepal‘s embassies in the Gulf, and some interviewees were sexually exploited and 1 in 10 had serious mental health problems. Most organizations focused on rehabilitation rather than pre-departure preventative interventions. Better information prior to departure may make women aware of their health risks and rights. Our work s that the situation is very exploitative, there is an urgent need to empower women before they migrate, and during their stay in Gulf countries. The latter is unlikely since some of the receiving countries in the Middle East treat indigenous women as second-class citizens.
Preferred by: Edwin van Teijlingen