Update: 14th July, 2019: We are extremely concerned to learn that it has come to light that Kiran was ‘sold’ to and is enslaved by a Pakistani national leaving in Kuwait. He is demanding 500 Kuwaiti dinar (approximately £1,308 GBP) for her release!
The Indian Embassy in Kuwait has called a ‘meeting’ with the enslaver to negotiate secure Kiran’s release!
What is even more shocking, is that the Indian Embassy’s failure to understand and identify that slavery is a crime; it is a breach of article 4 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
This is a Police Matter – Why have the Kuwaiti Police failed to arrest the enslaver?
Justice Upheld was recently contacted by the family of a female migrant worker believed to enslaved and detained in Kuwait.
In July 2018 Kiran (not her real name) a mother of three from Amritsar, India traveled to Kuwait to work as a domestic worker. Her post was procured via a ‘recruitment agent’ in Punjab in India who then contacted an agent in Mumbai.
Kiran’s family were concerned at the lack of contact from her. When they called Kiran, her conversations were guarded. Her eldest son explained that he could hear male and a female voices close by during these telephone calls. They appeared to dictate as to when the calls ended. He felt that his mother was prevented from having a free and full conversation with her family.
The family feared that there was something wrong. Kiran had not sent money back home to support her family other than an initial remittance in her first month of working in Kuwait.
Realising that Kiran was in trouble, Kiran’s husband Rajinder (not his real name) reported the matter to the Police in Amritsar. Rajinder felt the Police were not taking his complaint and concerns seriously. He pursued the matter vigorously with the Police however, despite the same it is alleged the Police did not take any action.
Rajinder claimed that his compliant was not even recorded. Out of desperation and frustration, Rajinder paid a bribe in the sum of 3,000 Indian Rupees (approximately £30 GBP) to a Police Officer to initiate action and start an investigation. Despite accepting the alleged bribe, an investigation was not initiated.
On the 5th of May, 2019, Rajinder collapsed and died following a massive heart attack. His children blame the burden of stress and the trauma of their mother’s plight and the lack of help from the authorities as the cause of their father’s death.
Until recently, Kiran and Rajinder’s children feared that their mother was dead. During a recent brief telephone with their mother, the eldest of her children informed Kiran of their father’s sudden death. Kiran is devastated. Her children fear the impact on grieving alone so far away from home.
Following the intervention of Justice Upheld, a formal investigation has begun to locate and repatriate Kiran to India. The ‘recruitment agent’ in Punjab has been arrested and is detained in Police custody.
Concerns raised in this case:
These cases repeatedly include a common thread role of unregulated and unregistered recruitment agents. Failure by the Indian authorities to prosecute these rogue agents means the problem persists unabated.
There is a lack of awareness of rogue agents amongst the public and the risks of working abroad. This is not publicised effectively to the public. More needs to be done to address this especially in the rural areas of India where often where the victims originate from. This could be easily addressed by establishing campaigns spread via the village Councils and via places of worship. Likewise, the Indian Ministry of Women and Children could do far more than it is doing to educate potential migrant workers.
There is an absence of collecting and collating data relating to the plight of the abused migrant workers by the Indian authorities for them to understand the issues facing the migrant workers.
The abuse and victimisation of migrant workers is not raised by the Indian authorities as concerns at ministerial level with the offending countries. This should be of concern to both India and the offending countries since India is the largest remittance receiving country in the world:
with migrant workers from the country sending home USD 69 billion in 2017 (Economic Times – )
Why are people so desperate to leave Punjab? States like a Punjab need address the cause. People want to work but lack the opportunities in Punjab. There are limited opportunities for the predominantly young population of Punjab who are frustrated by the lack of work and training opportunities look to move abroad as a way out. There is a sizeable proportion of the youth population of Punjab who have succumbed to the drug epidemic in Punjab – an epidemic that has been denied by successive national and local governments and which remains unaddressed with the vigour and professionalism it requires. The potential of the youth is not valued by the Governments both at local and national level as valuable resource.
The bribe allegedly made to the Police is not only criminal offence but also a misconduct offence in a public office.
Our experience in dealing with the Indian Police is that there is a failure to identify and recognise that the abused migrant worker is a victim of a criminal act. The usual response is that the migrant worker left of his/her own violation and by the own their choice. The Human Rights and social justice aspects are ignored.
Returning victims of slavery are not provided with counselling or medical support who are often traumatised by their experience. Accordingly, they rarely report their degrading treatment and the abuse they have suffered which may include being victims of people trafficking, prostitution, sexual abuse and or being being ‘sold’.