21 more Kuwait trafficking victims expected today

Source: 21 more Kuwait trafficking victims expected today | The Herald May 13, 2016

Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter

Twenty one more women who had been held hostage in Kuwait after being lured to the Middle East country on the pretext that they were going to be offered lucrative jobs by a local human trafficking syndicate, are expected to return today. This brings the number of women who have returned to 91.

The women are part of the 200 women who were stranded in Kuwait. Presenting a report on the visit to Kuwait by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs last month, chairperson Cde Kindness Paradza, said the 21 women had been assisted by the International Organisation of Immigration.

Cde Paradza said the committee had a horrifying experience as the victims related how they were trafficked and how they were treated as slaves after getting into Kuwait. He said most victims where recruited as housemaids and those who had gone earlier to Kuwait were being used by the agents as bait. “The women would be taken for HIV tests and those who tested negative were promised jobs. On arrival they would be sold at between $2 500 to $3 000 as maids where they were treated more as slaves. “In Kuwait, the maid cannot run away or she will be reported to police and be arrested or even thrown into prison,” he said. He said the maids could be beaten up, sexually abused, work for very long hours, given low wages and sometimes were not paid. Cde Paradza said Zimbabweans were not the only ones affected by the practices.

However, countries such as India, Bangladesh and Philippines were benefiting in form of taxes. “At the same time we were trying to repatriate our women, Malawi and Philippines were also trying to help their citizens. “Sierra Leone, Ghana and Ethiopia have banned the issuance of visa to Kuwait and now agents are turning to Southern Africa,” he said. He said one of the affected women was now mentally challenged as a result of the trauma she experienced. Cde Paradza expressed concern over the way the matter of the women was treated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that he said refused to assist citing financial problems.

“The Zimbabwean embassy in Kuwait had challenges catering for the rescued girls. The Ambassador Grey Marongwe made several appeals to the head office but never got any response,” he said. The committee appealed to Government to intervene in the case and ensure all visas to Kuwait were verified by police. “Kuwait has various types of visas and visa 20 is for maids. This can be banned and other countries have stopped the issuance of such visas. “Local newspapers and electronic media should not continue advertising job opportunities as this exposes women to human trafficking,” he said.

“The committee also requested that the Ministry set a fund to assist victims of human trafficking than relying on an individual as what happened when Wicknell Chivayo had to assist. “We should also carry out an investigation to establish the exact number of girls who have gone to Kuwait between June 2015 and May 2016. There is also need for awareness campaigns to discourage the practice. “All local agents who assisted in the trafficking of women to Kuwait should be brought to book” he said.