Due to increased concern over abuse and exploitation Nepal has banned women under 30 from working in the Persian Gulf states.
The reasons presented for doing so range from abuses of a physical and sexual nature, poor working conditions, threats, forced labour and deprivation of food and sleep (reports BBC and CNN).
Nepal's minister Raj Kishore Yadav stated that he hoped by putting in place this age restriction the risk of abuse against mature Nepalese women would be substantially reduced. Yadav asserts that "young female workers are reported to have been sexually and psychologically exploited in Gulf countries. So the cabinet decided to set the age bar for women migrant workers in the Gulf. Women above 30 years of age are at low risk of such exploitation."
According to Mr. Yadav's government some 58,000 Nepalese women are working in the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman. Human rights agencies findings put into question the accuracy of this number stating since they estimate some 200,000 to be the official number as many such women traveled illegally to these countries to work and as a result are unregistered.
It is estimated that some 1,000 Nepalese leave their country and travel to the Middle East to work as housemaids. Nepal's embassies in that region state that they had dealt with numerous cases of women seeking shelter following physical and sexual abuse.
Nisha Varia a senior research for Human Rights Watch's Women's Rights Division thinks this is not enough, she explains that "imposing on a ban on women under 30 from migrating to the Gulf fails to solve the underlying problem of how desperate women are for decent work." She argues that setting limits on working age isn't the solution, instead she states it would be much more productive for Nepal's government to "work with other labour-sending governments to demand stronger protections for migrant workers in the Gulf." She also added that Nepal's government "is right to be concerned about abuse against migrant women, but the correct response is not to stop them from going, but to ensure they can migrate with guarantees for their safety."
This move on behalf of Nepal's government comes 18 months after that government brought to an end a 12 year long ban on women working in these Gulf states after a Nepalese domestic worker committed suicide in that region.