HYDERABAD, 30th April 2014, IANS: Voting in Andhra Pradesh began Wednesday for 17 Lok Sabha…
Hyderabad(PTI): Women domestic workers from India’s southern Andhra Pradesh are languishing in jails in Gulf states after attempting to flee abusive employers or overstaying their visas, said an Indian state minister, urging the national government to help them.
In a letter to India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, Andhra Pradesh’s minister for non-resident Indian welfare, Palle Raghunatha Reddy, called for action to bring back the women.
“Necessary steps should be initiated to bring them to their native areas safely by providing free travel and necessary visa documents at the earliest possible (opportunity),” he wrote.
“Instructions should be issued to Indian embassy officials in Gulf countries to interfere in the matter and provide necessary help in terms of food, clothing and shelter.”
Government figures show there are an estimated six million Indian migrants in the six Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
These include women who leave their villages to take up jobs overseas paying up to three times more than in India, putting their fate in the hands of recruitment agents, who often dupe them.
There is no official data on the exact count of the migrants stranded in Gulf countries but experts put the numbers in tens of thousands, many of them in jail.
Some of the migrants overstay on tourist visas and are unable to pay the fines required to return home. In some cases, they do not have exit visas. Many others have been jailed on petty offences waiting for their case to be heard, according to the Andhra Pradesh state government.
Women from Andhra Pradesh and the neighbouring state of Telangana “are being sold like products in a retail shop,” Reddy wrote in the letter sent last week.
“Women are being sold to the tune of Rs 400,000 ($6,000) in Saudi Arabia and between Rs 100,000 ($1,500) to Rs 200,000 ($3,000) in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait,” the minister wrote.