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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 January 2021

Twelve Indian women rescued in the UAE after being duped by recruitment agents

Women forced to work 15-hour shifts in homes and locked in at night

A domestic worker takes a child out for a stroll in the Nad Al Sheba neighbourhood in Dubai. The National
A domestic worker takes a child out for a stroll in the Nad Al Sheba neighbourhood in Dubai. The National

A group of Indian women forced into working long hours as domestic helpers in Ajman have been rescued.

The 12 were duped by recruitment agents in India and promised regular jobs in shops in the Emirates.

But when they arrived on visit visas, the women were handed over to an agency and forced to work gruelling 15-hour shifts in homes.

Some of the women were denied food, wages and treated badly.

"After their duty, they were taken back and locked in apartments," said Roop Sidhu, general secretary of the Indian Association in Ajman.

He said some of the women complained of maltreatment and poor food.

We appeal to women coming in search of jobs that they should come on a proper visa and not on a visit visa.

Neeraj Agrawal, Indian consulate in Dubai

Authorities in the UAE and Indian embassy officials heard of their ordeal and rescued them. The case prompted a warning from the consulate in Dubai that jobseekers should not come on visit visas and instead use proper channels. Some of the women had overstayed their visit visas by up to three months.

The case came to light through the Indian media after their plight was raised by Amjed Khan, a social campaigner, who tweeted copies of the women’s visit visas and tagged India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“We have located these women and are making arrangements for their board and lodging,” the official "India in Dubai" consular account replied on Saturday.

Seven of the 12 women filed police complaints and investigations are ongoing.

One has left Ajman and arrived in Hyderabad, a city in southern India, where most of the women were from.

Two more plan to leave on Wednesday and the others will depart once they have travel documents, passports and take Covid-19 tests.

Neeraj Agrawal, a spokesman at the Indian consulate in Dubai, told The National a case had been filed in India against the agent who sent the women from Hyderabad to the UAE.

“The state government lodged a case against the man. He was the con man and the main culprit who sent the girls from Hyderabad saying they would get good jobs in Dubai,” Mr Agrawal said.

“We appeal to women coming in search of jobs that they should come on a proper visa and not on a visit visa. They should not fall prey to lucrative offers made by these cunning middlemen either in India or the UAE.

“We request them to call 800 46342 or get in touch with us on the helpline numbers available online. We are here to help distressed people in trouble. They are our responsibility and the consulate will give them all possible support.”

Indian officials also thanked authorities in Ajman for their assistance.

On Monday, the UAE announced the establishment of a National Commission for Human Rights.

The independent authority will be responsible for monitoring human rights cases and enacting policies. It will work with local and international bodies to "preserve the level of civilisation we have reached in this country", said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

"Women, children, labourers, the elderly, people of determination and the vulnerable have rights that must be safeguarded. The authority will advance our country’s efforts in protecting human rights," he said.

Last week, the country announced it would embark on a year-long review to strengthen the UAE human rights framework.

At the launch of the study, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and chairman of the National Human Rights Committee, said the country had 14 years of experience in addressing human trafficking.

“We sometimes see it on the rise and sometimes we see it dropping, depends on the rings running it," he said.

More than 40 people were smuggled into the UAE last year, according to the country's annual human-trafficking report.

Updated: December 15, 2020 03:11 PM

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