Cell phones, fixed salaries for Indian workers in the Gulf

March 4th, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) In a bid to combat trans-national human trafficking, employers have been asked to provide a mobile phone and fixed minimum wage to Indian domestic workers going to Gulf countries, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said here Tuesday. “The cell phone would help keep track of the person, so that he/she doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Most people go abroad on legal work permits but on arrival in the foreign land their permits are forcibly taken from them,” Ravi said while speaking at a conference on human trafficking.

The conference ‘Survival to Success - Celebrating Her Life’ was organised by the UN Office On Drugs And Crime (UNODC) and the Ministry for Women and Child Development ahead of International’s Women’s Day March 8.

Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury, UNODC’s India chief Gary Lewis, senior bureaucrats and NGOs participated in the conference.

“Their work permits are never renewed and they become slaves to avoid facing prosecution. We are also ensuring that the intending employer must approach the Indian embassy for authentication of his papers,” Ravi said, adding that a minimum wage of $300-350 has been fixed to save Indians from facing any exploitation abroad.

He said that only Indian women over the age of 30 could apply for household jobs. The minister said that around 62,000 people are working as domestic workers in Gulf countries.

According to the UN, human trafficking means the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people by means of threat, use of force or other forms of coercion like abduction for the purpose of exploitation.

According to UN estimates, approximately 150,000 people are trafficked within South Asia annually, with children and young women being lured from their homes with promises of a good job, good marriage or stardom in the entertainment industry.

Many are forced into prostitution or slavery where they suffer unspeakable indignities and hardship. In some Gulf countries women are sold as brides and in others children are forced to work as jockeys in camel races.

Human trafficking is a booming illegal international trade, making an estimated $32 billion annually at the expense of millions of victims.

Chowdhury said: “Not only women are trafficked for prostitution or bonded labour. Young children are also forced into the sex trade. We have designed policies and launched various schemes for the rehabilitation of rescued trafficking victims. The results are evident but a lot more needs to be done.”

“All stakeholders - government, NGOs, law agencies, media and corporate houses - to come together and curb the problem from it roots,” she added.

Lewis said: “Apart from several preventive measures, we are taking the help of Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities to disseminate information on the issue to increase awareness among people.”

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