Forged visas causes hassle in Bahrain
Manama, May 11, 2013
Hundreds of domestic workers have been using forged visit visas to sneak out of India to come to work in Bahrain, with unscrupulous manpower agents helping fuel the practice, which has caused major problems for Bahraini families.
"These housemaids, mainly from Andhra Pradesh, are leaving India based on a photocopy of a forged visit visa," said an Indian Embassy official.
"This is not a valid visit visa issued by Bahraini authorities concerned."
The official said the fake documents were being issued with the help of rogue agents with links to Bahrain and making sure it passed India's immigration officials, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
He revealed once they arrived in Bahrain, the maids were given legitimate working visas by local manpower agents.
The official said many of the women come from poor backgrounds and are willing to pay huge sums of money to work in Bahrain even for a short time.
"Based on all the cases we have dealt with so far, these women start working in Bahraini households initially and after three months run away and come to us saying they want to go back."
He said this indicated the women coming to Bahrain illegally were involved in an illegal scam.
"According to the law, a sponsor can get a refund in three months if he is not happy with the domestic worker," he said. "These women wait for three months to end and then immediately leave them."
The official said scores of Bahraini families had suffered as a result of the "rampant" practice.
"They should not be here in the first place as they are not housemaids," he said. "Bahraini families have paid money to employ them and later find out they want to leave.”
"This is a joint venture as we understand between Indian and Bahraini manpower agents."
The official said the embassy had informed Indian authorities in the hope of putting an end to the practice.
"We have asked top officials in India to stop these women from Andhra Pradesh leaving for Bahrain if they fail to produce original copy of their visa," he added.
The Migrant Workers Protection Society, which runs a shelter for distressed women, said the problem was complex and escalating.
"I cannot even tell you at this point how many cases related to women from Andhra Pradesh we have dealt since last year, who sneak out of the country illegally using forged visit visas," said its chairwoman Marietta Dias.
"We dealt with about 80 cases last year of which 60 were related to women from Andhra Pradesh.
"We can say that based on the cases we dealt with and talking with some of these maids, they are accompanied from India by a person whose duty is to ensure they land safely in Bahrain without any hassle."
Ms Dias revealed that some of the women involved did not even know the "colour of their passport".
"They have no clue and pay huge sum of money to these agents," she said.
The Indian government has already set strict regulations for employing housemaids abroad, including limiting visas to those aged 30 and over and requiring a refundable $2,500 (BD945) deposit.
Maids must also show copies of their employer's salary slip or, in the case of a businessman, a copy of the commercial registration and bank statements.
The Labour Ministry last year issued a total of 33,409 permits for maids and 5,150 for male domestic helpers and 1,674 cases of runaway maids were reported. – TradeArabia News Service
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