Problems faced by Nepalese female migrants workers in the Gulf Countries: A quantitative survey

Authors: Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Bhujal, S., Gurung, M. and Regmi, P.

Start date: 1 October 2018

Journal: http://www.istm.org/icmh_sciprogram

Publisher: International Society of Travel Medicine

Background: Nepal is a key supplier of labour for Gulf Countries. Most of the researches in Nepal have been focused on male migrant workers as they represent the majority of the migrant work force. However, Nepali women migration to gulf countries has increased significantly in recent years. The working and living conditions of women in foreign employment particularly to Gulf Countries is a topic regularly covered in Nepali media, but there has been very little academic research on the topic.

Objectives: The main objective of this study is to examine the health and other problems experienced by Nepali women migrants at their work place during foreign employment in Gulf Countries.

Methods: The study was based on analysis of information collected from 1889 female returnee migrants registered with an emergency shelter run by Pourakhi, a NGO in Nepal, in the period of eight years from July 2009 to June 2017.

Results: The 1889 participants were aged 14 to 51 with a median age of 30 years. The vast majority of women (63.6%) had migrated for foreign employment for the first time. The most popular destination for foreign employment was Kuwait (55.5%), followed by Saudi Arabia (21.0%), UAE (9.2%), Oman (3.8%) and 5.5% in other countries. The majority of women was domestic worker and had poor education.

Two fifths (38.5%) of women had experienced multiple forms of harassment including physical, verbal, mental and sexual abuse. More than one-third of women faced the work load problem, excessively long working hours for more than 18 hours per day. Likewise, women were even restricted contacting their family members. One fourth of women suffered from some kind of health problems.

Conclusions: Female migrant workers face various work-related problems, which are often related to exploitation. Recruiting agencies and employers should provide information on possible risks and training for preventive measures. Raising awareness among female migrant workers can make a change in their working lives. The Government of Nepal, civil societies working with migrants should initiate awareness campaigns about risks and rights in relation to health and social care services in the host countries.

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