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No plan to ban Lankan maids

2014 Feb 12

There is no plan to ban Sri Lankans travelling abroad for housemaid jobs, a top official at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Muscat said.

“Sri Lankan government has neither imposed a blanket ban on sending its nationals abroad for housemaid jobs nor has it set a date for it. It has only taken a decision to bring down the numbers of nationals flying abroad for housemaid jobs,” M.M. Deshapriya, Labour Consular at the Lankan Embassy in Muscat, told the Times of Oman.

“Now there are only approximately 15,000 Lankan housemaids in Oman. For the last few years, the number has been coming down,” the labour consular added.

According to reports, there are 1.8 million migrant workers from Sri Lanka, mostly working in the Middle East, with around 30,000 employed in Oman. Of those in the Sultanate, 17,000 are working as housemaids.

There were media reports that the Sri Lankan government has plans to ban its nationals from travelling abroad, particularly to the countries in the Middle East, for taking up jobs of housemaids.

Quoting Sri Lankan Ambassador to Kuwait C. A. H. M. Wijeratne, the media reports said that the Sri Lankan government is considering a ban on sending its nationals as housemaids abroad.

“We are paying the price — the social impact is huge, and families are breaking up,” he said in remarks to the media. “For some women, it’s a way to get away from a drunk husband, but the government is seriously contemplating (placing a ban),” Wijeratne added.

Since last year, the Sri Lankan government has started using quota restrictions by foreign employment authorities to control and limit the recruitment of females by private manpower agencies and has also introduced electronic fingerprinting and biometric scanning for all housemaids prior to their departure from Sri Lanka, to crack down on rampant fraud and other irregularities.

The new system has helped prevent fraudulent practices such as using forged passports and irregularities in the foreign employment sector. The Sri Lanka government was forced to introduce the new system after several cases came to light where Sri Lankan nationals had secured employment in the Middle East by submitting forged certificates.

However, Sri Lanka’s economy depends a lot on remittance earnings which amounted to nearly $6 billion last year.

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