The Member of Parliament (MP) from Sombaykha, Dorjee Wangmo, and MP from Jomotshangkha-Martshala, Norbu Wangzom, raised their concerns on the Bhutanese women workers being physically abused and tortured in Iraq.
Dorjee Wangmo said that as per the sources in the media, there has been a report of more than 400 Bhutanese women being cheated by oversees agents who were promised safe and secure employment, but the women are being physically abused and tortured in Iraq. She said there is report of the women left starving.
She said, “According to the report, the government is well aware about the situation and the government is also looking into the measures to address the issue.” She requested the Prime Minister to inform the House on the measures that the government is taking to ensure that not even a single woman faces a similar situation in the future.
Norbu Wangzom raised the same issue and said that since 2003, the job opportunities in the country have decreased, and the opportunities to work abroad increased.
Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that he is deeply concerned about the Bhutanese women workers, and he has been constantly in touch with them, in order to know about their unfortunate situation.
PM said that the issues and concerns pointed out by the two women MPs is true, but it must also be understood that the women have gone to the country which the government deterred people from going to. In addition, the women went through illegal agents so the government could not interfere.
However, he said that the government is looking for different ways to help. “Firstly, we want to help those women who are struggling in Iraq, and we also want to make ensure that nothing happens to them. As a solution for this, we have informed the people that if they are willing to go they can go to place where there is a Bhutanese embassy. If not, they should contact the government agencies or directly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If people could follow this there won’t be any issues. If people go to place where the employment rules are strict, there won’t be any problem, and even if there are we can help them easily.”
“We are planning to bring all the women back to our country, and since they have gone there illegally, we cannot think about a measure that is in line with the laws,” Lyonchhen said.
Lyonchhen repetitively urged the Bhutanese youth to stop going through illegal agents, but instead go through government agencies, and to go to countries where there is a Bhutanese Embassy, and to learn about the employment rules before going abroad to work.
Lyonchhen said, “I feel that oversees employment program is not bad, but we are not going to improve the program and send more number of youths. Sending youths to other countries for employment is an indication that we (all three governments) have not created enough job opportunities in our home country, and Bhutan is not being able to provide job to our youths.”