By August 10, 20170 CommentsReport

Sri Lankan Tamil War widows trafficked as slaves to Gulf

Sri Lankan war widows are being trafficked as slaves to the Gulf, a report on Thomson Reuters stated.

According to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, over 1,000 women from the north – many from female headed homes – sought jobs as maids in Gulf nations in 2015 and 2016. Central Bank data shows only 300 went in 2011.

 

“The numbers are insignificant compared to the over 100,000 Sri Lankan women who leave annually as domestic workers,” said S. Senthurajah, executive director of Social Organizations Networking for Development, a Jaffna-based charity.

 

“But given that hardly anyone from the north left as domestic workers a few years back, it is an important number. It’s because they cannot make ends meet.”

Sri Lanka is in its eighth year of peace after a 26-year conflict which ended with the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009.

More than 100,000 died, around 65,000 remain missing and millions were uprooted from their homes during the violence, concentrated mainly in the island’s ethnic Tamil majority Eastern and Northern Provinces.

Yet despite the government pumping billions of dollars into infrastructure development in the north, little has been done for the estimated 90,000 women who lost their husbands, fathers and brothers during the conflict, say activists.

 

The abuse of Asian and African maids in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman is commonly reported.

According to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, over 1,000 women from the north – many from female headed homes – sought jobs as maids in Gulf nations in 2015 and 2016. Central Bank data shows only 300 went in 2011.

“The numbers are insignificant compared to the over 100,000 Sri Lankan women who leave annually as domestic workers,” said S. Senthurajah, executive director of Social Organizations Networking for Development, a Jaffna-based charity.

“But given that hardly anyone from the north left as domestic workers a few years back, it is an important number. It’s because they cannot make ends meet.”

With no jobs and few opportunities to earn a livelihood, these women – many of whom look after up to four people – are being forced to borrow from money lenders, leaving them open to exploitation by trafficking networks.

“They are the most vulnerable and easiest to convince to take up these offers,” said Ravindra De Silva, head of the charity Association for Friendship and Love.

Recruitment agencies employ local villagers who are known and trusted in their communities and who scout for indebted and impoverished women.

They promise decent jobs, generous salaries and paint an alluring picture of a good life in a wealthy nation. All the women have to do is sign a basic contract and fill in some paperwork – but they are often unaware of any terms and conditions.

This amounts to a contract of bonded labour, where the recruitment agencies – which are government registered – dupe victims into believing no fees need to be paid, said Da Silva. (Colombo Gazette)


Post a Comment