Two Education Consultancies in Thimphu had illegally sent the Bhutanese girls as maids
Recently a Facebook post written by a brother about the duping and ill-treatment of his cousin sister in Dubai along with other Bhutanese girls went viral on the social media generating public anger and concern.
The Ministry of Labor and Human Resources (MoLHR) upon receiving complaints from the families of the victims quickly acted on the issue by carrying out a thorough investigation and informed the Royal Bhutan Embassy, in Kuwait to take further action.
It was found that two Education Consultancy firms have deliberately engaged in the illegal deployment of Bhutanese youths in Kuwait. United Arab Emirates and Oman in the last one month.
“Sergyel Education Consultancy has illegally sent 10 Bhutanese girls as housemaids in Kuwait. The Embassy rescued all 10 girls with great difficulty. The final group comprising of 6 girls arrived back in the country on 7th June,” said Ugyen Tashi, the Program Officer for Overseas Employment under MoLHR.
If has been found that the other agent, Drupthob Education Consultancy illegally deployed four Bhutanese girls as housemaids in United Arab Emirates and Oman.
“Out of 4 girls, one has already returned to Bhutan and the other 3 girls have also been tracked and they are safe in the respective countries. The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Kuwait is currently negotiating and requesting the government of UAE to help the youths to return back home,” said the Program Officer. He also added that Drupthob Education Consultancy is also making effort to bring back the girls.
The brother in his post said that the consultancy had promised a nice salary with a nice working environment but on the girls reaching there they found that the consultancy had taken a huge commission from a labour agency in Dubai and the girls were sent to work as maids.
He said that despite his efforts there was no contact from his sister and only after a while a call from Dubai saw a person asking a huge ransom amount to let his sister go. With help of two kind local residents the brother got his sister back from the local Arab residents who he said had not fed his sister well and instead kept her isolated with no phone and other communication.
Even the immigration authorities in Dubai supported the local labour agent and they initially asked him to give 9,000 dirham (one dirham = Nu 17.50) to release his sister but brought the amount down to 5,000 dirham.
The brother in his post mentioned two other girls who tried to run away but could not as their passport and everything else had been taken away by the local labour agent there.
Ugyen Tashi said that as far as the Ministry is concerned, their first priority is to bring back the girls safely to Bhutan safely.
“As soon as all our girls are back, we are going to take serious action against the consultancies. Moreover, we will be sending a letter to the Ministry of Education to look into the cases of these Consultancy firms and also take necessary actions,” said Ugyen.
The Ministry urged all the youths to be more careful in selecting their agent and that they should not be tempted by unrealistic offers from consultancies.
“Despite repeated announcement in the media about being mindful of illegal overseas vacancies, our youths tend to take the risk and go overseas without seeking any advice from the Ministry. When they reach the destination country and get into such problem, it is difficult for the Ministry to repatriate them since every country has their own rules and the process becomes lengthy,” said Ugyen Tashi.
The gulf countries have some of the world’s worst record in treating maids who are subject to a variety of abuses and torture with little or no legal protection from local authorities in those countries.
Update: The Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay in response to the above story by The Bhutanese said that the license of such agencies would be cancelled and shut down immediately. The PM said that such acts endangering Bhutanese lives are criminal.