KATHMANDU: Nepal’s restrictions on woman migrating for work are discriminatory and inconsistent with international law, a United Nations rights official said Monday during a visit to the country.
Nepal last year introduced a ban on women working as domestic helpers in the Gulf, one of various laws passed over the last decade to protect female migrant workers from sexual exploitation.
“These bans are ineffective and create the consequence that women migrate through irregular channels and become victims of trafficking,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants , Felipe Gonzalez Morales.
“They (the government) don’t realise it’s discrimination, but these policies are inconsistent with international law and should be lifted.”
Nearly half a million Nepalis migrated for work in 2015/16, according to the latest available government data, and migrant remittances account for over a third of the country’s GDP.
The vast majority are men working in construction in the Gulf and Malaysia, but around 20,000 women also left that year despite various laws that restrict female migration.
In recent years Nepal has introduced a minimum age limit for female migrant workers, prevented mothers with children under two from leaving the country for work, and most recently banned women from domestic work in the Gulf, though enforcement has been patchy.