Demand for Nepalis up as Indonesia, Philippines ban housemaids to Saudi

Acute shortage of domestic helps in Saudi Arabia, following a ban on Indonesian and Filipino housemaids last month, is likely to open doors for Nepali women.

Housemaids’ salary has increased by up to 100 per cent in Saudi following high demand in the holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier, a housemaid used to get around 2,000 Saudi riyals, but now it ranges between 3,000 to 4,000 riyals, local daily Gulf Times reported.

Saudi has a shortage of around 150,000 housemaids and plans to recruit them from Bangladesh, India, Eritrea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mali and Kenya. But the hiring process has not started yet. However, illegal recruitment of housemaids has also increased.

“Some unlicensed or bogus recruitment firms are behind it,” chairman of National Recruitment Committee Sa’ad Al Baddah said, adding that some beauty parlours are also engaged in illegal acts. According to him, Saudi authorities are closely watching illegal recruitments and the agents.

The government opened Saudi jobs for Nepali women early this year — lifting a ban imposed nearly a decade ago. But the government’s capacity to control illegal outflow of women migrant workers or trafficking is in question.

New criteria could reduce maids’ grievances, but it could not stop illegal outflow, president of Paurakhi, Manju Gurung, said, adding Gulf countries remain a risk for women migrant workers.

According to Nepali diplomatic mission in Gulf countries, more than 35 Nepali women are facing abuse and exploitation per week. Last year, 72 women suffered sexual exploitation and 10 committed suicide. Expert in foreign employment Dr Chiranjivi Nepal opined that the government should not send Nepali women without safety guarantee from Gulf countries.

Newly appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Udaya Raj Pandey, said his first priority would be the safety of workers.

Migrant outflow

Month Number of women

Mid-February 320

Mid-March 1,038

Mid-April 781

Mid-May 1,041

Mid-June 1,648

Mid-July 1,853

(Source: Foreign Employment Department)

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