The decision of India’s scrapping the financial guarantee scheme for migrant domestic workers in Oman has come as a bolt from the blue as now it will be harder for maids who are abused or unpaid to get home.
The scheme has been recently scrapped by the Indian embassy in Oman through issue of a notice citing employers and recruitment agencies that the scheme was discouraging them from hiring. The decision comes weeks after a similar waiver in Kuwait and discussions about cancelling the scheme in Bahrain.
Josephine Valarmathi of the National Domestic Workers Movement in India, told Reuters, “It seems that the Indian government is going to remove the bank guarantee protection for Indian women domestic workers in all Gulf countries, leaving them less protected.”
There are about 700,000 Indians working in Oman and about 6 per cent of whom are women. Most are men employed as construction workers, gardeners and drivers.
To guard against abuse of domestic workers in the Gulf nation, India signed an agreement with Oman whereby employers had to provide a bank guarantee certificate of USD2,800 to the Indian embassy in the capital, Muscat.
The main purpose the agreement was to protect domestic workers if an employer failed to pay wages, or the domestic help was physically or sexually abused, and required compensation and financial aid to return home. However, the rule applied to domestic workers hired through six recognised state recruitment agencies, excluding women using unofficial channels or conned by fake agents.
Social activists have called for stronger measures to protect poor women working in Gulf states.