Fifteen Nepali women who had gone to Lebanon as domestic maids committed suicide in the past year. They were aged between 20 to 30 years. "Nepali women are increasingly committing suicide, unable to bear the physical, mental and sexual abuse by their employers," said Dipendra Upreti, volunteer at the Nepali Council in Lebanon. "According to police reports, the women killed themselves by shooting, hanging, or jumping from buildings," he said, adding that information was hard to come by.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not inquired about the incidents, nor has it written letters to the Nepali Consulate for reparation. "Because of this inaction, it's difficult to find out what actually happened," Upreti said. Complaints to the consulate about low pay, excessive workload, and abuse by employers, however, are common.
The government imposed a ban last January on sending housemaids to Lebanon after it was deemed unsafe for Nepali women. However, manpower agencies have been sending more than 20 women every day from Tribhuvan airport, in collusion with the authorities.
There are more than 18,000 Nepali workers in Lebanon, of which 95 per cent are women. Human Rights Watch says that 95 foreign housemaids committed suicide in Lebanon between January 2007 and October 2008 alone. "According to 2010 data, every week one housemaid kills herself in Lebanon," said Jeff Chaufield, a local journalist.
Meanwhile, five women have returned to Nepal with children born after being forced into sex with their Lebanese employers. "We have rescued many women with children in the last four months, and one woman is in hospital with her child," said Upreti.