A Kenyan woman is trapped in Qatar after her employer reportedly confiscated her passport in order to exploit her.
The Kenyan, who has only been identified as Wairimu, had initially been hired as a tutor for three children from a rich family in Qatar.
However, unbeknown to her, her employer’s offer to take her for a medical checkup was a ploy to confiscate her passport.
For three months now, the employer has forced her to double up as a house help and she can neither find another job nor travel back to Kenya, since she has no passport. The employer has also reportedly become hostile to her.
“I came here to be a tutor… but my boss wants me to do housework and still help the children … It is too much work,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Doha.
“Without a passport, I can neither get another job nor travel back home… (My employer) has also become hostile and rude to me and it is hard for me to approach her.”
It was because of such cases that Kenya imposed a ban on its citizens from traveling to Gulf nations for work in 2014.
Kenya plans to lift a ban on its citizens working in the Gulf – introduced in 2014 because of abuses – with new safeguards, such as requiring recruitment agencies to pay a security bond so they can repatriate any distressed migrants.
New rules require that agencies must have a physical office and also submit quarterly reports to the government on their overseas migrants.
They are also required to deposit a mandatory security bond of Sh500,000 to Sh1.5 million ($4,852 to $14,556), which will be used by government to repatriate workers in case of emergencies.
Visa-sponsorship rules in Qatar, known as the kafala system – used in several Gulf Arab countries – mean migrant workers like Wairimu cannot change jobs without their employer’s consent and can be charged with absconding if they flee.
Kenya signed bilateral labor agreements with Qatar and Saudi Arabia in November, pledging the security of Kenyan migrant workers in the two states, and issued licenses to 29 recruitment agencies in Kenya.