Civil Society Organizations have initiated a new campaign seeking to rescue Ugandan girls from repression in the Gulf States.
The six-month campaign dubbed “Return Enslaved Ugandan Girls” intends to create awareness about the ills and dangers in the labour export business and address the plight of Ugandan girls who are languishing in foreign territories while they search for employment.
Tales of Ugandan girls in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have marred social media in the recent past exposing untold abuse and inhumane treatment by their masters. Many of them say they have been treated as slaves.
Such outcry is the basis of the campaign spearheaded by Forum for Women in Democracy -Young Leaders Alumni Association (FYLAA), Centre for Participatory Research and development (CEPARD), Youth Consortium for Labour Justice (YOKOLAJ) and Uganda Youth Alliance for Family Planning and Adolescent Health (UYAFPAH).
Fredrick Ekakoro, the president of FOWODE Young Leaders Alumni Association (FYLAA) says they will document evidence, circulate a policy paper and collect signatures over the next six months with a view of exposing syndicates in the industry.
A report released in December 2012 by the parliamentary committee on equal opportunities estimates that about 5000 girls and boys are stranded overseas. The number could however be higher given that many of those working overseas are not documented. Some are victims of human trafficking.
Ekakoro also recommends the establishment of a data base in foreign missions to capture details of Ugandans working abroad.
In January 2016, the ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development banned the exportation of domestic workers after reports emerged that Ugandans were being subjected to abuse, slavery, and sexual assault among others.
Now the initiators of the campaign are demanding that government institutes legal and policy reforms to streamline and secure labour export for the beneficiaries especially women and youth.
Laban Tusiime, a Ugandan youth who had sought opportunity in the Gulf told URN that he returned home upon realizing that he had been duped. Tusiime who had gone to Dubai to work as a security Guard, returned home just two months after left the country on a two year contract.
Tusiime said that although he went with a commitment to receive a monthly salary of 1000 US Dollars and a provision for food, transport and accommodation, he only earned 800,000 Shillings during his two months’ work abroad.
Tusiime said that he had spent 3.5 million Shillings on preparations to work to in Dubai.
Several recruitment agencies demand that persons seeking to travel for employment in the Gulf meet the cost of travel and visa acquisition contrary to the legislative mandate in the Gulf that requires the employer to bear the cost of recruitment.
The CSOs are calling for a commission of inquiry to extensively probe allegations of degrading and inhumane treatment and ascertain whether there is misconduct on the side of recruitment firms, the recruited and employers oversees.
They say that government should in a meantime work closely with foreign missions to establish the people affected and fast truck the repatriation of girls and men affected and stranded abroad.