Laxmi Lingden of Jhapa returned from Saudi Arabia mentally disturbed. Her ordeal began when she left her village after recruiter Bhola Dahal told her she didn’t have to pay anything for a job abroad. She was then taken to Delhi, forced into prostitution before another middleman finally sent her on to Saudi Arabia using the passport of another- Jamuna BK. “The family I worked for in Riyadh treated me like an animal, if I said anything they would beat and harass me,” Laxmi recalls.
Laxmi is among the few lucky ones who have returned. There are many other illiterate, poor Nepali women like her, sold and tricked by Nepali recruiters, whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Many return home pregnant or with babies. Among women still missing from eastern Nepal after leaving for the Gulf are Sita Subba, Sushila Sunuwar, Dilmaya Gajmer, Smriti Subba, Dakmaya Bishwakarma, Indira Mahara, Prem Kumari Baraili, Begum Miyani, Bushimaya Sitaula, Ganga Darnal, Pramila Darnal (see pic). All were first taken to Delhi before being sent to their promised destinations.
The local administration is aware about the nexus of brokers and traffickers who trick helpless women like Lingden, but say they don’t receive enough complaints to arrest anyone. “Of the 100 passports we issue daily, almost 40 per cent are to women, especially poor Dalit and Janajati women aged between 20-40,” says Jhapa CDO Sagar Mishra.
Gayatri Karki, Devi Raya and Gyan Maya Prasai recently returned from the Gulf where they were tortured and abused by employers and were forced to work in dire conditions. But the ill treatment began much earlier, from their own compatriots in Nepal.
After being told, that she did’t need skills or education, and didn’t have to pay any fees to go arboad, Gayatri Karki left for Mumbai. She was taken to Padam Baraili’s apartment where 20-25 girls like her were brought every month. In India they were forced to work for three months to pay off their debts to recruiters. Many of them continue paying them even after returning from the Gulf.
Local recruiters who sent Gayatri Karki, Devi Raya and Gyan Maya Prasai are now refusing to hand them their travel documents (transcript of a phone conversation, below) and are plotting to send them back to the Gulf.
The number of women applying for passports in Jhapa has increased and so have the number of women who have gone missing, many commit suicide on return. Even those who return are ostracisied in their villages.
Phone conversation between Gyanmaya and the local recruiter Kamal Murmu
Gyanmaya: Hello! Is this Kamal?
Gyanmaya: Where is my citizenship card? I had given it to Khalil.
Kamal: It must be with him then.
Gyanmaya: But you are my agent, why are you refusing to hand over my documents?
Kamal: Don’t worry my people will give it to you in a few days. What about your passport?
Gyanmaya: It’s with Rita.
Kamal: Some of the agents are in prison now, but they will be out in a few months.
Gyanmaya: Why were they arrested?
Kamal: I don’t know, I was in India when they got arrested.
Gyanmaya: I don’t know the other agents properly, you were the one who took me, so I have filed a complaint against you.
Kamal: Why are you so angry sister, you will get your citizenship soon. I had even given you money because all I wanted was to help you.