Thursday, 24 November 2011

Nepalese migrant domestic workers suffer abuses

Nepal’s economy dependent on exploitation

A poor economy and lack of opportunities are forcing more and more Nepalese women to leave home and earn money abroad as domestic workers. Separated from their own children to take care of other women’s children in the Middle East or America, many of these women are mistreated and exploited. Aware of the risks, tens of thousands continue to leave every year.

Luna Ranjit, co-founder and executive director of Adhikaar at a conference organized by the Migration Initiative of the OSI Foundation. Photo credit: Louise de Hemptinne

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with only $1.20 GDP per capita. Only recently emerged from a decade-long civil war and historically dependent on an unpredictable agricultural sector, a new source of income has recently become prominent. Remittances – money sent back by Nepalese workers abroad – comes to some $1.5 billion, representing almost a quarter of Nepal’s GDP.

Since the 1990s, in light of increased globalization, more and more women are joining the ranks of Nepalese migrant workers. Of the approximately 83,000 Nepalese women that leave the country every year to work for foreign employers, fully 90 percent are victims of exploitation or sexual violence, says a study by the Foreign Nepali Workers Rescue Center (FNWRC).

“In the absence of fruitful opportunities at home, Nepalese women are leaving to earn money abroad, most often as domestic workers,” Luna Ranjit, co-Founder and Executive Director of Adhikaar, a New York-based non-profit working to empower their community, tells MediaGlobal. “Most know about the possibilities of being exploited and mistreated, but they are dreaming about better futures for themselves and their children; leaving the country appears thus as the only solution.”

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