The moves come after a Times of Oman investigation revealed that Sri Lankan housemaids are on ‘sale’ in Sohar.
Foreign Employment Minister, Thalatha Athukorala, has launched a top level government investigation.
“My officials will be probing to find how Sri Lankan female domestic workers are travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on tourist visas and crossing into Oman on job visas illegally,” Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Employment Athukorala told Times of Oman.
She also confirmed that a Sri Lankan embassy official had been recalled to Colombo as part of the probe. On October 26, Times of Oman revealed that female domestic workers from Sri Lanka and other Asian and African countries are brought into Oman by expatriate agents without the knowledge of the sending country’s embassies in Oman.
An official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Oman confirmed that they had dealt with 70 trafficked cases this year alone.
The agents in Sohar, talking to Times of Oman in a hidden camera operation, had said that “they have their own way to deal with embassy officials”.
Agents in Sohar speak openly of skipping official Government and embassy procedures to provide expatriate women to work as housemaids in Oman.
According to the minister, the official recalled is now part of the Government inquiry.
“An official has been called back in October. We are checking whether he had any connections with the illegal gangs,” the minister said, adding that another 21-year-old woman was recently rescued from Oman after she was moved into the country by a Nepali agent through the UAE.
According to the Lankan foreign employment rule, woman below 30 years old cannot legally migrate as a domestic worker.
“We urge everyone to follow the rules set by the Government. Take up overseas job opportunities only through official channels,” the minister added.
The agents in Sohar had told Times of Oman that they need salary details, maudinyia and ID card to get a housemaid.
“We can bring housemaids. You can choose which one you want. No need to go to embassy. We will do that,” the agent had told Times of Oman.
Earlier, an official from the Sri Lankan embassy, while detailing the registration procedures to recruit housemaids from Lanka, said that the embassy’s involvement is must.
“Agencies can recruit housemaids but job order and other papers have to be attested by embassy here and employment bureau in Lanka. Without approval from all sides, a Lankan housemaid cannot be legally hired,” the official said.
“We have come across around 70 cases of housemaids brought into Oman illegally by agents this year. We were worried and sought the help of Oman government. They have taken necessary steps to prevent it and the numbers of housemaids coming illegally have come down,” the official had said.
According to the official, earlier, housemaids could come to Oman on a visit visa and convert that into a job visa.
“However, it was stopped. Now, housemaids come to neighbouring countries on visit visas and then they enter Oman. They don’t know that they are duped,” the official said, adding that officially, it will cost OMR1,500 to recruit a Lankan housemaid.
The official added that recently, three such cases have come to light even after the strict measures taken by Oman Government.
“We are planning to make representations with Oman government authorities again,” the official added. (Colombo Gazette)