Saturday, 21 November 2009

Gulf job racket: Indian women stranded on the streets of Jeddah

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 21: Half a dozen women from the city are now stranded on the streets of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia after an illegal recruitment agent duped them of employment in the kingdom.

The illiterate women were "employed" as servants in Arab families with a promise of a "good salary", accommodation and food. But their "employers" changed thrice in the last four months. The women shuttled between "employers" in Jeddah and Mecca and when they learnt that they had been duped, they settled down under the Sitteen flyover in the Saudi Arabian port city.

Ayesha Sultana, Fatima Bibi and four others are victims of human trafficking of a different kind, popularly known in immigration circles as "pushing". Illegal and unregistered recruiting agents "push" illiterate and semi-skilled women and men to Arab countries without their going through the mandatory immigration formalities. According to sources, at least 12 women are "pushed" through immigration to Arab countries from Mumbai every week.

Travails began for Ayesha Sultana and others the moment they landed in Saudi Arabia, after paying about Rs 1.5 lakh each to an unregistered agent in Mumbai. An agent in Hyderabad, also unregistered, facilitated their travel through his counterpart in Mumbai.

The victims have now approached the Indian mission in Jeddah seeking action against the unregistered agents, who had cheated them. "We are now living under a flyover. None of the employers paid us salaries. We did not get food on time and often we used to starve. The agents have duped us after collecting huge amounts from us," Ayesha Sultana said from Jeddah.

Another victim Fatima said "after arriving in Riyadh I was moved frequently from one household to another. When I contacted the recruitment agent, he promised to bring back to India, but handed me over to another family in Mecca."

When contacted the local agent, Sohail, said he had collected just Rs 1000 from each of the women. Sohail blamed his Mumbai counterpart Khaled Ansari of Khaled Enterprises for the women's trouble in foreign land. "I have no role at all," he said seeking to thrown the entire blame on Khaled.

Admitting that his recruitment company has not been registered, Khaled told this correspondent that it was his first batch of women domestic helps sent to Saudi Arabia. "There's a problem there. We will sort it out soon," he said.

Ayesha, a divorcee and mother of five-year-old daughter suffering with heart valve problem, sought employment in Saudi Arabia so that she could treat her daughter in a corporate hospital back home. Fatima too is a divorcee. The other women are middle aged.

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