India’s decision to scrap the bank guarantee scheme for employers in Kuwait and Oman is drawing criticism from human rights campaigners. Many believe that the revoking of these schemes will make it harder for domestic workers who are abused or unpaid to get home.
India had recently scrapped the $2,500 bank guarantee in Kuwait, followed by a similar decision for the $2,800 guarantee in Oman. The decision was taken because employers and recruitment agencies maintained that it was discouraging them from hiring Indian workers.
The move, however, has been met with apprehension from social activists. Josephine Valarmathi of National Domestic Workers Movement in India said the removal of the bank guarantee protection for Indian women domestic workers in Gulf countries will leave them less protected. Valarmathi observed that the guarantee came to the rescue when the employer failed to pay the salary. “Now, we won’t have that,” she told NDTV.
The bank guarantee scheme was put in place in 2014 as a welfare move and required the foreign employer to deposit the money in the Embassy of India in the destination country. The scheme acted as a shield for women domestic workers in case the employer failed to pay wages, or if the worker was subjected to abuse and required compensation and financial aid to return home. This scheme was introduced amid reports of abuse of domestic workers in Gulf nations and applied to workers hired through the six recognized state recruitment agencies. It did not apply to women using unofficial channels or those conned by fake agents.