x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nepalese maids flee citing abuse

Nepal lifted its ban on citizens working as maids in the UAE just nine months ago but there are already concerns about welfare, according to its embassy.

DUBAI // Despite stringent measures to protect the interests of Nepalese household maids there are concerns about their welfare.

This is the view of Dipak Adhikari, Charge d’ Affaires at the Nepalese Embassy who said that five Nepalese women are seeking shelter at the embassy in Abu Dhabi.

“We are trying to help them in clearing their immigration papers and repatriate them to Nepal,” said Mr Adhikari. “They fled their abusive employers.”

Since the Nepalese government lifted its ban in June 2011, 276 domestic maids have registered with the embassy.

“Most of them came to the UAE after the ban was lifted in 2011, while a few came illegally through other channels,” said Mr Adhikari. “There is a large demand for Nepalese housemaids in the UAE.”

The Nepalese Embassy has received complaints from maids about non-payment of salaries, physical and verbal abuse, withholding food and work hours exceeding what contracts specify.

They have also claimed that employers or their relatives pressured them into physical relationships.

Mr Adhikari said the embassy has  now proposed new rules for employing a Nepalese housemaid.

“Any person who wants to employ a Nepali women as a domestic worker has to pay a minimum salary of Dh900 and also must deposit a refundable fee of Dh5,000 with the embassy,” he said.

The deposit would protect the  workers from non-payment of salaries or if they experienced any difficulties with their sponsor.

Most Nepalese maids are employed by Indian families, said Mr Adhikari, because of their similar culture.

“Nepalese woman also speak Hindi, making it easy for them to interact with their Indian employers,” he added.

Naina Gupta, a Nepalese maid working with an Indian family, said a lot of women were abused.

“I feel lucky to have worked with a good family,” she said. “Not many Nepalese women are fortunate enough to get a good family. They face abuse at the hands of their employers.”

Ms Gupta said some of her friends who work as maids were not treated fairly.

“But they bear the insults quietly and continue to work to support their families back home,” she said.

frahman@thenational.ae