Nine Malawian women are stuck in Kuwait after their employers sued them for escaping from their respective work places.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has confirmed this development saying repatriation of the women is draining government resources as Malawian women are still going to Kuwait despite reports that they are being abused.
The Daily Times has learnt that the women, who worked as housemaids, escaped from their employers and joined other women in the same situation at a safe shelter.
They claim to have escaped due to their employers’ ill-treatment including overworking and forcing them to eat expired food.
The youngest is 19 years old, and one of the women has a baby who is less than a year old whom she is staying with in prison.
There are also reports of one Malawian woman who is receiving psychiatric treatment at one of the facilities in Kuwait. We have been informed that she developed the problem due to trauma she went through.
We have learnt that the prison is overcrowded, has poor ventilation and is breeding ground for contagious diseases.
Gloria Mwase who returned to Malawi on September 28 said employers usually open a case once they discover that their maid has escaped.
When caught, is detained for three days as punishment before going back home.
“They don’t go to any court— the Malawian women in question have stayed in prison for six weeks now. Government does not have money to buy them air tickets to return home,” said Mwase, who worked as a housemaid for three months without pay before escaping to a camp, said.
Mwase explained that the camp hosts migrant workers who escaped from workplaces as they wait for their governments to process their travel arrangements.
But those that have been sued do not go straight from the camp without serving a punishment at the prison.
Reacting to this development, Liason and Communication Officer for Women Judges Association of Malawi (Wojam) Jean Kayira said the women are not criminals but rather human trafficking victims who are supposed to be at a safe shelter.
“Most of these women are there because they were tricked about the kind of job they are going to do there. So they probably were doing a job they didn’t expect. They are not supposed to be treated like criminals or be subjected to any kind of detention,” she said.
Over 35 Malawian women have escaped from abusive workplaces in Kuwait this year. Malawi government has assisted over 20 women to return home.
Spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Rejoice Shumba said Malawian Embassy in Kuwait is waiting for eventual repatriation once all prerequisite processes to do so are completed.
“Currently there are 16 ladies left to be repatriated of whom nine are at the deportation camp whilst seven are at the holding shelter,” she said.
Shumba added that despite government’s efforts, people are still going there and the numbers keep increasing.
“Our records can confirm that up until today, a total of 41 ladies have been repatriated to Malawi,” she said.
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