Nepal Labor Minister Protecting Migrants from Slavery

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Nepal labor minister wants to make sure that if his citizens leave the country in search of work, they don’t fall into the hands of traffickers..

This initiative also protects women from sexual exploitation and wage theft. Free the Slaves along with other organizations is pushing for stronger measures to assure that Nepalis are protected.

Minister Deepak Bohora met with FTS Nepal Director Neelam Sharma and others last week to talk about his decision to maintain Nepal’s “Free Visa Free Ticket” policy. The plan makes it less expensive and safer for Nepalis looking for jobs in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Malaysia.

Previously, migrant workers from Nepal pursuing employment in Gulf countries were required to pay up to $750 for their travels, fees to recruiting agencies, and various other expenses. This often forced migrant workers to take-out enormous loans to work abroad, leaving them in conditions of debt bondage slavery. Under the new system, workers pay $170 at most. These fees cover a medical check up, pre-departure training, orientation, and a migrant workers welfare fund. This reduction will lift much of the financial burden from migrant workers.

Last week’s meeting minutes read: “The minister strongly said that he would stand for ‘Free Visa Free Ticket’ and not step back on his decision, albeit all the pressure from the [labor recruiting] agencies. He urged all of us to support him in this policy.”

Nepal has a plan also that would require a minimum salary of $516 for housemaids/domestic-workers. It assures that workers also could contact family minimally once per week and be allowed to come back to Napal after two years at the agency’s expense.

Free the Slaves says that the meeting with Minister Bohora was a huge validation of our advocacy teamwork in Nepal.

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