By Mukunda Gaire, Kathmandu, Dec. 18: Nepali women who fly to foreign countries on visit (tourist) visas not only tend to face difficulties or stranded but are also trafficked.
Stating that Nepalis traveling to other nations tend to misuse the purpose for which visa has been provided, the government is planning to amend and restrict the immigration procedure.
Various data reveal that many Nepali women, after taking labour approval from the department of foreign employment tend to go to foreign countries on visit visas. The human trafficking investigation bureau of the Nepal Police Headquarters has stated that the brokers, by making women fly-in visit via, leave them stranded in foreign lands.
Anurag Kumar Dubedi, spokesperson of the bureau, said, "We receive many complaints of the broker leaving Nepali women, who fly on the basis of visit visa, stranded in foreign countries in the name of foreign employment."
"Even though strict surveillance is being done over these groups, the cases of human trafficking have not reduced at all," he said. "As strict surveillance is done in the airport of Nepal, many women are trafficked via Nepal-India border."
The bureau claims that women in such countries are also subjected to sexual violence. Even though there are 240 check posts on the Nepal-India border, the cases of women trafficking have not stopped due to the open border.
Moreover, the bureau states that many women were trafficked by the people close to them or people they are known to. "Weak financial condition is the major reason behind women being subjected to buying and selling. Many are also cheated due to their drive to enter European countries and the United States," added Dubedi.
Investigations have revealed that brokers send women to Malaysia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Europe and South Africa among others and either leave them stranded or subject them to forced labour or sexual abuse.
The bureau states that many people looking forward to flying to Europe and America were being cheated in recent times.
Dubedi added, "Cases of women trafficking, forced labour, sexual abuse and cheating can be curbed only if surveillance is increased as to the financial ability of the person willing to fly abroad and the reason for their visit."
He also stressed on the need of good conduct of the immigration officials.
Meanwhile, the investigation bureau has revealed that a total of 28 women were rescued from India in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the bureau, a total of 300 people including 234 women and 66 men, were rescued from India, Kuwait, Kirgizstan, Iraq, Libya, Greece, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi, Myanmar and so forth from March, 2019 to July, 2020.
Bishwa Khadka, chairman of Maiti Nepal said, "Cases of women being sent to different countries in the name of foreign employment. In recent times, many have brokers have been punished for sending women abroad by making forged documents."
Rather than introducing new laws, enforcing the existing laws and making the immigration officials accountable for their jobs would help in reducing such crimes, added Khadka.
In the COVID-19 pandemic, Maiti Nepal itself has rescued 25 women who were stranded in India.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department has said that works were being done to amend the procedure of Nepalis flying abroad in visit visa where the person would have to reveal his/her aim and abilities to travel for tourism.
Ramesh Kumar KC, director-general of the Department of Immigration, said, "With the increased surveillance over foreign employment companies, travel agencies and education consultancies in coordination with the department of foreign employment, the number of people flying in visit visa has decreased."
Moreover, Dr. Ganesh Gurung, foreign employment expert said that the misusing visit visa was not a new trend. "This trend will not decrease by amending or introducing few laws," he added.
Dr. Gurung said that dual inspection was vital in addressing these issues.