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Pimps trap Indian women in Gulf
George Iype in Kochi | October 02, 2004 15:46 IST
Harrowing tales of Indian women trapped in prostitution rings in West Asia have compelled the government to enforce stricter norms for recruitment of women for various jobs in the region.
In the last one month, several Indian women -- most of those who went to West Asia as housemaids from Kerala -- have returned with traumatic stories.
One such woman hailing from Kerala's Thrissur district complained before the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Department that she was physically and mentally harassed for over three months in an apartment in Kuwait.
The victim also disclosed to the government that dozens of women, especially those from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are trapped in Kuwait and other countries.
"They do not have passports or other travel documents and it is impossible for them to get out," the victim, who did not want to be named, told rediff.com on Wednesday. "I am relieved that I managed to escape with the help of a family friend."
She said the women are put up in apartments along with those from countries like Russia and Egypt and forced into the flesh trade, often run by those from India in cohort with West Asia-based middlemen.
"I was hit severely when I refused to enter into the profession. I went there with a promise that I would get Rs 20,000 for a job as a housemaid in a rich Arab family. But I was put up in an apartment and they held back my passport," she said.
The woman said she paid Rs 40,000 for the job. But now that her dreams have come to naught, she has approached the Kerala Women's Commission for help.
NORKA officials and leading travel associations agree that hundreds of Indian women are trapped in Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Muscat, Oman and Qatar.
"It is a huge racket. Most of these women are illegally sent to the Gulf as housemaids with offers of good salary. But they are ending up in prostitutions rings. We have asked the central government to bring in strict norms for women's recruitment to the Gulf countries," a NORKA official said.
According to the Kerala Association of Travel Agents, some 30,000 housemaids have departed for West Asia from the three airports in Kerala in the last four years.
"We have got lots of complaints and reports that many of these women are exploited after they reach the destination. We want the government to ensure that the Indian women are not illegally recruited for immoral activities," KATA president K V Muralidharan told rediff.com
It is not that the Centre has not imposed norms on recruiting Indian women to the foreign countries as housemaids.
The rules, framed on the recommendations of the National Commission for Women, ban recruitment of housemaids below 30 years of age.
But officials say women below 30 are now being recruited and sent as beauticians, salesgirls or as hairdressers.
The external affairs ministry says that in future there will be more control in granting single visas to women.
"We are going to enforce very strict rules in this regard in giving single visas to women going to the Gulf countries," Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed told rediff.com
More reports from Kerala